GUWAHATI, July 8 - In an effort by the Nagaon Wildlife Division, Nagaon Shivasthan Temple Committee and Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) India, a total of 67 turtles were rescued from a temple pond of Nagaon Amolapatty Shiva Temple and subsequently rehabilitated in their natural habitat of Burhasapori Wildlife Sanctuary in Sonitpur district.
The turtles, comprising Indian Flapshell turtles, Peacock softshell turtles, Indian Tent turtle, Brown-roofed turtle and Black softshell turtles were living in a confined pond.
�The temple has a small water body where the devotees donate turtles due to their religious beliefs. The temple pond is a small and concretised structure which is unsuitable for turtles. Prasanna Kalita and Pankaj Chakraborty on behalf of the temple authority informed us about the need to relocate the turtles to Prasanta Bordoloi, an eminent conservationist of Assam,� a TSA office-bearer said.
The matter was taken up with Ranjith Ram, DFO of Nagaon Wildlife Division, who then initiated the process of involving experts from TSA India, who have their regional office in Bishwanath Ghat.
A special team comprising Dr Smarajit Ojah, honorary wildlife warden of Nagaon district, veterinarian Dr Rupok Kumar Nath and biologists from TSA India, Dr Rajeev Basumatary, Dr Parimal Chandra Ray and Gaurav Barhodiya along with the staff of Nagaon Wildlife Division started the recovery process from June 25.
The entire operation was carried out following proper protocol and under the supervision of veterinary doctors of TSA India. It was completed on June 29.
It is worth mentioning that almost all the temple ponds in Assam are home to endangered turtles and most of them are in a confined, unhygienic condition � stemming largely from lack of awareness.
Religious beliefs and sentiments prevent the temple authorities from agreeing to release the turtles into a suitable wild habitat. Such turtles are, therefore, deprived of laying eggs and hence not contributing to their gene pool. Moreover, often many turtles die in the pond due to polluted water or disease.
In the meantime, conservationists have lauded the example set by the authorities of the Nagaon Amolapatty Shivasthan Temple.