GUWAHATI, March 9 � A day-long meet of conservationists and forest officials with temple managements on Sunday stressed the need for scientific conservation of turtle fauna in temple ponds and resolved to take appropriate steps for restoration of such ponds for ensuring safe habitat for the turtles.
The meeting � �Ex-situ conservation of turtles in the community ponds of Assam� � which was part of a data exchange platform for various stakeholders concerning turtles was organized by the NGO Help Earth in collaboration with the Assam State Zoo at the zoo campus.
Help Earth has in its survey till date identified 14 temple ponds in the State having turtle fauna. A total of 12 species of turtles � including a number of critically-endangered species � reside in these ponds.
The programme was attended by committee members from four temples and namghars � Athkhelia Namghar near Titabor, Nagshankar Temple of Sootea in Sonitpur district, Gorokhiya Gosai Than of Sorbhog and Hayagriva Madhava Temple of Hajo.
In the meeting a booklet titled Turtles of Assam was released and distributed among the participants. The booklet contained details and photographs of 19 species of turtles occurring in Assam. The aim of the booklet is to help people identify different turtle species.
The meeting was convened by Dr Saibal Sengupta, principal, Arya Vidyapeeth College, and was attended among others by AK Johari, APCCF, Assam Biodiversity Board and Forest Department. Speakers at the meeting included Dr Chittaranjan Baruah, Darrang College, Dr Saibal Sengupta, Anirban Chaudhuri, wildlife consultant, Kolkata.
Other organizations that participated in the programme were Gauhati University; University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya; IIT Guwahati; Asian Institute of Management and Technology and Assam Don Bosco University. The programme was sponsored by Rufford Small Grants, UK.