GUWAHATI, Sept 2 - As part of their initiative to save turtles of Jor Pukhuri at Ugratara Temple, school students carried out a cleanliness drive in and around the pond on Thursday.
Students of NPS International School collected plastic bags, bottles, unhygienic materials and garbage and dumped them in the nearby GMC dustbins.
Apart from putting wooden platforms for the turtles to take rest, the students also placed dustbins around the pond and distributed leaflets among the local people to create awareness for preservation of the turtles. The students also put up posters and banners around the pond to create awareness among the masses in this regard.
Addressing a community meeting organised as part of the event, the school students tried to create awareness among the masses about the preservation of turtles.
Of the 29 species of freshwater turtles found in India, 20 are found in Assam, and temple ponds in Assam are known to house a dozen species. Even the extremely rare black soft-shelled turtle � categorized as �extinct in wild� by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) � finds a secure home in a few temple ponds of Assam. However, there is an urgent need to adopt scientific measures for ensuring long-term survival of the turtles in these habitats.
Lauding the effort of the school students in preservation of the endangered animals, senior priest of Ugratara Temple, Haren Sharma, said, �Apart from proper enforcement of Wildlife (Protection) Act and implementation of scientific measures for conservation of turtles, some of the smallest initiatives like raising awareness against animal trade, keeping turtles as pets and discouraging others from doing so can make a difference.� He also urged people to maintain cleanliness in and around the pond.
The Ugratara Temple pond is facing several problems requiring scientific interventions. One of the major problems here is that the turtles have little breeding space and they are habituated to a diet that is not natural for them.
The Ugratara Temple pond is relatively small for the 150 turtles living there. The perimeter of the historic pond has been concretized, leaving no space for the turtles to lay eggs. Straying turtles are also vulnerable to road mishaps and capture for consumption.