Black soft shell turtle eggs of Jor Pukhuri shifted to Assam State Zoo
GUWAHATI: The turtles that have been living in Jor Pukhuri of the city’s Uzan Bazar area for decades have got a fresh lease of life after some of them along with their eggs were shifted to Assam State Zoo cum Botanical Garden.
Altogether 34 black soft shell turtles eggs have been shifted from the pond that abuts Ugratara Temple for the greater cause of saving the species from extinction.
After shifting, the eggs were artificially incubated and tiny turtles aged only 25-30 days are currently roaming around their present habitat in the zoo.
According to the Ugratara Temple managing committee, the turtles will be kept in the state zoo for a while and then eventually be released into the wild, probably in Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary.
Speaking to G Plus, Ugratara Temple managing committee advisor Naba Sarma said, “The turtles usually come out of the pond and lay eggs in the surrounding area. Sometimes people come and take away the eggs. Keeping in mind that these turtles are endangered, we have taken the step to let them out of the pond and shift them to a protected area.”
Shifting of the turtles from Jor Pukhuri will also serve another cause. It will help reduce the population at the overcrowded pond, which is currently home to 12 different species of turtles, among other aquatic animals.
Kailash Sarma, president of Ugratara Temple managing committee said, “One of the reasons of shifting the black soft shell turtles is that they are carnivorous (feeding on other animals) in nature which will destroy other aquatic lives in the pond, including ducks. The overcrowding of the turtles would also destroy the ecosystem of the pond. Only a limited number of turtles will be kept in the pond while the rest will be let out to other protected places. We have plans to save around 10,000-50,000 turtles and release them in the wild in the next 10 years.”
The black soft shell turtle or Bostami Turtle (Nilssonia nigricans) is a species of freshwater turtle found in Assam as well as Chittagong and Sylhet areas of Bangladesh. In 2002, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified it as an extinct species.
While shifting the turtle eggs from Jor Pukhuri, the Ugratara Temple managing committee took the help of an NGO called Help Earth.
The NGO looked after the artificial incubation of all the turtle eggs that were collected from Jor Pukhuri.
General Secretary of Help Earth, Dr Jayaditya Purkayashtha told G Plus, “The cost of this project is zero. We are also working with Nagshankar Temple in Biswanath Chariali of Sonitpur district to help save the turtles living in the pond of that temple from extinction.”
Help Earth has also partnered with Hayagriva Madhav temple committee in Hajo to save the turtles living in the pond situated near the temple.
As part of the project, the caretakers of Hayagriva Madhav temple have been nurturing the endangered turtles of the temple pond and have been protecting them from harm.
The NGO has also teamed up with the temple authority in a breeding programme.