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Ugratara Temple turtles translocated to zoo


GUWAHATI, Jan 29 � Two large turtles of the Ugratara temple pond were translocated to Assam State Zoo on Tuesday in view of the threat they posed to ducks besides devotees who venture into the water for performing rituals.

The shrine pond located in the heart of the city sensitive in terms of wildlife conservation, as it is home to the two rare species of turtles � the black soft-shell turtle (extinct in the wild) and the Assam roofed turtle (endangered). In addition, the pond shelters as many as seven other turtle, lending substantial biodiversity to the water-body.

The other seven species residing in the pond include the spotted pond turtle, brown roofed turtle, Indian roofed turtle, Indian tent turtle, Ganges soft-shell turtle, peacock soft-shell turtle and Indian flap-shell turtle.

The turtles netted and translocated on Tuesday were a black soft-shell turtle and a peacock soft-shell turtle.

�Due to prolong stay of these turtles in the pond, their behavioural biology has changed and most of them will die out if they are released in wild. Translocation of such confined turtles, therefore, is a challenge. On the other hand, the next generation of these turtles after hatching can immediately be released in the wild with a higher success rate,� herpetologist Jayaditya Purkayastha of Healp Earth, told The Assam Tribune.

In doing so, he added, one can prevent the pond from getting over populated and also give a new hope for turtles such as the black soft-shell to get reintroduced and thrive again in the wild.

Out of 14 identified ponds with turtles in Assam, the Ugratara pond is the one located in the heart of a metropolis, and thus can act as a turtle conservation and education hub.

�We have already made a breeding ground for turtles in it with help and support of the temple management body,� Purkayastha said.

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