GUWAHATI, May 25 � On the occasion of the World Turtle Day on Saturday, a breeding-cum-conservation facility for Assam roofed turtle (Assamese name: Asomi dura) was inaugurated at the Assam State Zoo here.
The facility was inaugurated by Etowa Munda, Forest Minister, in presence of SK Srivastava, CCF (Planning), Utpal Bora (Conservator of Forests) and F Rahman (DCF). The programme was coordinated by Raja Mandal (Turtle Surveillance Alliance).
The Assam roofed turtle is an endangered species and a very rare animal found mostly in Assam, some other parts of India and some parts of Bangladesh.
On the occasion, environmental NGO Aaranyak, in association with city-based NGO Help Earth and Naba Prerana, an NGO of Hajo, organised an awareness programme for school and college students of Hajo at the Bishnuram Medhi Sisu Kalyan Bhawan, Hajo.
The meeting was attended by Mohan Chandra Malakar, former State PCCF; Sivaprasad Sarma, chief of the temple management committee, Hajo; Dr Ramen Talukdar, Principal Suren Das College, Hajo; Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, secretary general of Aaranyak; Jayaditya Purkayastha, founder general secretary of Help Earth and Bikash Das, president of Naba Prerana.
A �green oath� was taken by all the participants of the awareness programme and they pledged to protect nature.
Jayaditya Purkayastha delivered a talk on conservation of turtles with special reference to the turtles of temple ponds in Assam. Sivaprasad Sarma enlightened the audience on the religious belief associated with turtles and appealed to all the participants to contribute towards conservation of turtles.
Many of the temple ponds of Assam house a wide diversity of turtles. About 12 different species of turtles are found in these temple ponds. Help Earth has initiated a programme to support and carry out research in different temple ponds of Assam.
May 23 is celebrated as the World Turtle Day to create awareness regarding turtles. There are 341 species of turtles in the world, of which 29 species can be found in India and 19 species are present in Assam. About 50 per cent of the global turtle population is threatened. Assam is home to turtles such as black soft-shell which is considered extinct in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.