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Invasive south red-eared slider turtle poses threat to Indian biodiversity

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    16th Sep, 2022

Context

Recently, it has been observed that the presence of invasive and non-native south red-eared slider turtles would lead to the extinction of native species of their own kind in Indian waters.

About

  • The red-eared slider are native to south-eastern USA and Mexico, but have found their way across the globe.
  • These species are brought for sale and trading purposes to different countries including India.

Is it legal?

  • In India, keeping indigenous turtles as pets is prohibited under the wildlife protection act. But the foreign breeds are not restricted and are kept as pets in many families across the country.

Features:

  • Scientific name: Trachemys scripta elegans
  • It is considered to a good pet, as it needs less maintenance.
  • As they grow bigger, people sometimes release them into waterbodies.

India is home to 29 freshwater turtles and tortoise species of the 356 turtle species recognised worldwide and around 80 per cent of them are threatened, according to a 2020 report.

Existence in India

  • This species is already spread across many Indian states and poses a threat to indigenous species of its kind, including soft-shell and hard-shell
  • It is widely found in urban wetlands, such as — Sukhna lake in Chandigarh, temple ponds of Guwahati, lakes of Bengaluru, Sanjay Gandhi national park in Mumbai, Yamuna river in Delhi — among other water bodies.

Invasive species, also called introduced species, alien species, or exotic species, any non-native species are those that significantly modifies or disrupts the ecosystems it colonizes.

How it acts as an Invasive species?

  • The species is considered as one of the world’s 100 worst invasive non-native species.
  • It has been brought to India during the British era.
  • Initially introduced in Kolkata, the plant is now present across the water bodies in the country, choking them and affecting the local biodiversity.
  • These species tend to survive on weeds and food of indigenous turtle population, and destroys the natural ecosystem for them.
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