A Historic Event in India!

Today, a historic event was witnessed with the relocation of 25 hatchling Black Softshell Turtles from the Nagshankar Temple to a grow-out facility at our TSA India Program’s Nature Discovery Centre in Assam, India. This marks the first time individuals of the species have been transferred from the temple to a specialized turtle facility for their conservation. The relocation was performed with kind support from the Nagshankar Temple committee, Sonitpur East Division, Biswanath Wildlife Division, District Administration, and Mr. Padma Hazarika (Legislative assembly member).

A hatchling Black Softshell Turtle peers out across its new home at the Nature Discovery Centre in Assam, India.

The Black Softshell Turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) is native to large rivers and their tributaries of Bangladesh and India. The majority of this species’ population, however, lives amongst sacred temple ponds in its native countries, including Nagshankar. It is here, at this temple, that India’s most prominent population of this critically endangered species resides.

Until recently, the Black Softshell Turtle was considered Extinct in the Wild on account of no known wild populations. Within the last 15 years, however, a few small remnant populations have been discovered inhabiting the Brahmaputra River basin of Northeast India.

Hatchling Black Softshell Turtles are collected from their incubator shortly after hatching.

WATCH: In Search of the Black Softshell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KblXjqMjq-M

Since 2013, the TSA India Program has been working closely with Nagshankar, and other Temple authorities, in the management and upkeep of their temple ponds, and their turtle populations. Simultaneously, we have been working on a strategy to rebuild the turtle’s wild population in the Brahmaputra River basin.

Under this program, the 25 hatchling turtles, and, more of their kind, will be reared under the guidance of experts from across the globe. Once deemed large enough to evade predation, they will be released into their wild habitat, giving further hope for the Black Softshell’s survival.

A hatchling Black Softshell Turtle rests on the bank of its new home at the Nature Discovery Centre in Assam, India.

We would like to thank the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium for their support of this effort.

Photo credits: Parimal Ray