TURA, Aug 28 - Activists of Huro India yesterday recovered the shell of a dead giant turtle that had surfaced on the banks of Tasek Lake, near Songsak in East Garo Hills district. The discovery has created ripples with excited environmentalists hoping to find more of the same species in the area.
The team from Huro India, an organisation working for conservation of Hoolock Gibbon and other wildlife in Garo Hills, visited the spot after learning that carcass of a giant turtle was spotted by locals.
�We noticed that the photo of the dead turtle was going viral on social media and decided to go to the spot to investigate. We located the person, who first spotted it, removed the shell and kept it in his custody,� said veterinarian Dr Saljagringrang R Marak who is associated with Huro India.
Marak said that it was for the first time that such a rare turtle was spotted in Garo Hills. Huro India team quoting locals said that such turtles were found in large numbers in Tasek, Chitmareng, Chidambong and Bolgisim.
�It calls for research as we suspect it to be listed in the endangered category,� added Bhutto Marak, another Huro India activist.
He further informed that they consulted the US based Turtle Conservancy and Chelonian Research Foundation for identification. The Foundation has narrowed it down to be either Nilssonia Hurum or Nilssonia Nigricans species. Hurum and Nigricans are listed in IUCN�s red list category.
�Nigricans is known to exist in an artificial pond of Baizid Bostami Shrine near Chittagong in Bangladesh. So we are very excited that we can come together for conservation and protection of this rare turtle in Garo Hills,� said Bhutto. �We have collected the DNA sample and will send it for investigation to Bangladesh,� he added.
Activists of Huro India said that Tasek is a community protected site and heavy penalty is imposed for fishing and hunting of any species found in the lake but once they venture out of the protected area, they are in danger as villagers are still fond of hunting wild animals.
�We want to urge the government to ensure that the turtle species found in the area is protected and adequate studies are carried out for its identification,� added Dr Marak.