GUWAHATI, June 29 - A joint expedition by the Arunachal Pradesh Forest department, Help Earth and Turtle Survival Alliance discovered a male and a female species of Impressed Tortoise (Manouria impressa) near Yazali of Lower Subansari district of Arunachal Pradesh on June 19.
This is the first record of this tortoise from India, which increases the total recorded 34 species of turtles and tortoises (29 species of non-marine chelonians and five tortoises) for the country.
An elusive creature, this medium-sized tortoise species inhabits the moist primary forests of the hilly tracts of the Indo-Myanmar biodiversity hotspot.
�This record further raises the status of the country as well as the State in the list of strategic turtle conservation priority areas,� Dr Jayaditya Purkayastha of Help Earth, who was part of the survey team, told The Assam Tribune.
The last reported range of the species was from Gwa in Myanmar, where Turtle Survival Alliance is carrying out a conservation breeding of this endangered tortoise for further reintroduction in the wild.
The other members of the survey team were Bunty Tao and Dr Bharat Bhushan Bhatt of Arunachal Forest department, and Dr Shailendra Singh and Arpita Dutta from Turtle Survival Alliance.
�Both the animals were examined, marked and photographed before they were released back at the precise location of their occurrence. This finding emphasises on the importance of conducting extensive herpetofaunal survey in northeastern India, especially along the border areas. Future surveys will be carried out near the area of occurrence and locations prioritised from the interviews of locals from the area, which may lead to ecologically viable population of the species in the area,� he said.