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  • 21 June, 2021

  • 15 Min Read

Black Softshell Turtle Conservation in Assam

Black Softshell Turtle Conservation in Assam

  • A major temple in Assam has signed a memorandum of understanding with two green NGOs, the Assam State Zoo-cum-Botanical Garden and the Kamrup district administration for the long-term conservation of the rare freshwater black softshell turtle or the Nilssonia nigricans.

  • A vision document 2030 was also launched after Turtle Survival Alliance India and Help Earth signed the pact involving the Hayagriva Madhava Temple Committee. The temple, revered by both Hindus and Buddhists, is at Hajo, about 30 km northwest of Guwahati.
  • Until sightings along the Brahmaputra’s drainage in Assam, the black softshell turtle was thought to be “extinct in the wild” and confined only to ponds of temples in northeastern India and Bangladesh.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature had in 2021 listed the turtle as “critically endangered”.
  • But it does not enjoy legal protection under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, although it has traditionally been hunted for its meat and cartilage, traded in regional and international markets.
  • Various temple ponds in Assam such as that of the Hayagriva Madhava Temple harbour various threatened species of turtles. Since the turtles are conserved in these ponds only based on religious grounds, many biological requirements for building a sustainable wild population have since long been overlooked.
  • This multi-stakeholder association [conservation pact] aims to restock the wild with viable, self-sufficient and genetically pure threatened turtle populations in the region.
  • We will offer assistance for the required improvement of husbandry of turtles kept in such ponds, and further recovery efforts are recommended for the long-term survival and existence of the endangered freshwater turtles.



  1. Reptile. Egg laying. Testidian family.
  2. Land dwelling Ex. Galapagos and Aldabara Tortoise = Seychelles.
  3. Asia, Africa and Galapagos (South America).
  4. Large dome shaped bump on top.
  5. Limbs or feet short and sturdy with bent legs.
  6. Herbivores.
  7. Tortoise hatching move from nest to mother borrow.
  8. 200 - 250 years.
  9. Body = Carapace is upper part and Pelestron in lower part.
  1. Reptile. Egg. Testidian family.
  2. Water dwelling. All oceans.
  3. America and Africa.
  4. Mostly flat. Light in weight.
  5. Have flappers with long claws.
  6. Omnivores.
  7. Stay in nest from 90 - 100 days.
  8. 40 - 60 years.


  • There are 5 species in Indian waters —
    1. Leatherback (Vulnerable),
    2. Loggerhead (Endangered),
    3. Hawksbill (Critically Endangered),
    4. Green (Endangered) and
    5. Olive Ridley Turtles (Vulnerable).
  • In India, sea turtles are protected under the WPA, 1972.
  • Olive ridley turtles
    1. They are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
    2. They are well known for its arribadas, or annual mass nestings when thousands of turtles migrate to the breeding ground to nest simultaneously.
    3. They are recognized as Vulnerable in IUCN; Appendix I of CITES.
    4. Nesting sites are
      1. Dharmara River (Brahmani); Devi River (Mahanadi)
      2. Rishikulya River, Gahirmatha beach, Astaranga coast of Odisha
      3. Hope Island of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Andra Pradesh)
    5. Odisha has half of the world’s Olive Ridley turtle population and 90% of India’s turtle population lives in the state.
    6. MoEF initiated the Sea Turtle Conservation Project in collaboration with UNDP in 1999 with WII, Dehradun as the implementing agency.
    7. ‘Operation Kachhapa’: Conservation of the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle was launched by the Wildlife Protection Society of India in collaboration with the Orissa State Forest Department and the Wildlife Society of Orissa and other local NGOs.
    8. To reduce accidental killing in India, the Orissa government has made it mandatory for trawls to use Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs), a net specially designed with an exit cover which allows the turtles to escape while retaining the catch.
    9. Odisha celebrates 1st Turtle Festival in Purito create awareness to conserve Olive Ridley Turtles.
  • Assam Roofed Turtle is a small freshwater turtle. It is in India and Bangladesh. Endangered in IUCN, Appendix II of CITES and Schedule 1 of WPA.

Source: TH

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