A major temple in Assam has signed memorandum of understanding with two green NGO’S, the Assam State Zoo-cum Botanical Garden and the Kamrup district administration for the long term conversation of rare freshwater black soft shell turtle or the Nissonia nigricians.
A vision document 2030 was also launched after Turtle Survival 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 Bhahmaputra’s drainage in Assam, the black softshell turtle was thought to be “extinct in the wild” and confined only to pounds of temples in north-eastern 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 Madhava Temple harbours various threatened species of turtles. Since the turtles are conserved in these ponds only based in religious grounds, many biological requirements for building a sustainable wild population have since long been overlooked” Arpita Dutta of Turtle Survival said.
“ This multi-stakeholder association 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 the further recovery efforts are recommended for the long-term survival and existence of endangered freshwater turtles, “ She added.