Spotted Pond Turtle

Context: Three persons engaged as mahouts in the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve have been arrested for capturing and consuming a rare species of a freshwater turtle- Spotted Pond Turtle. About Spotted Pond Turtle:
  • Common Names: Black Pond Turtle, Black Spotted Turtle, Hamilton’s Terrapin
  • Distribution:
    • The species is found in north and north-eastern Indian subcontinent primarily in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
    • It is found in the Indus and Ganga river drainage, from Pakistan to Bangladesh and also in northeast India.
    • It is also reported to be found in Gomti and Girwa rivers in Uttar Pradesh, Aravalli foothills and Gandak Dam in Bihar.
  • Conservation Status:
    • IUCN: Endangered
    • Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I
    • CITES: Appendix I
  • Characteristics, Habitat and Behaviour:
    • Black spotted turtles are black in colour with yellowish streaks or spots and wedge-shaped marks.
    • Their head is black with yellow spots and is extremely large, short-snouted.
    • The neck is greyish and has white spots. The skin at the backside of the forehead of this species is divided into shields.
    • They are freshwater turtles found in lentic water bodies. 
    • They are mainly carnivorous and feed on snails and insect larvae, however, vegetative material has also been found in some of the digestive tracts.
  • Major Threats:
    • Habitat loss due to land fillings and conversion of the lentic water bodies into agricultural land such as rice fields and for human settlements.
    • The species is subjected to commercial exploitation for meat consumption.
Source: The Hindu, WII

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