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Uttar Pradesh To Set Up First Turtle Conservation Reserve

The Forest Department in Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda district, in collaboration with the Turtle Survival Alliance Foundation India, is initiating a conservation effort. This endeavor aims to establish a turtle conservation reserve along the Sarju river, a tributary of the Ghaghra river. Gonda district is known for its turtle diversity, making it an ideal location for such a conservation effort.

Proposal and Monitoring

  • A proposal for the project has been forwarded, drawing from six years of monitoring various turtle species and studying the surrounding flora and fauna.
  • The proposed reserve will encompass a 2-kilometer stretch of the Sarju river, teeming with a diverse array of plant species, avifauna, fishes, and water snakes.

Government Approval and Management Plan

  • The proposal has been forwarded to the state government for approval. Upon approval, a management plan spanning an initial period of 10 years will be devised.
  • This plan will focus on the conservation of turtles and aim to safeguard the entire biodiversity of the region.
  • It encompasses the protection of over 30 fish species, 50 bird species, various plants, and two species of water snakes. Attention will be given to curbing pollution and enhancing water quality in the river.

Unique Turtle Species

  • Shailendra Singh, the Director of the Turtle Survival Alliance Foundation India, highlighted the biodiversity of the Sarju river. Notably, Sarju is home to nine turtle species, with eight of them listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.
  • The presence of the ‘crowned river turtle’ (Hardella thurjii) is particularly significant, as it nests and lays eggs in river water, unlike other turtle species found in the region.

Conservation Challenges

  • Despite its ecological importance, the population of crowned river turtles has dwindled due to habitat loss over the past two decades. Singh emphasized the urgent need for conservation efforts to reverse this decline.
  • Recent monitoring surveys revealed that approximately half of the adult crowned river turtle population remains in the Sarju river, with an estimated total of 5,000 individuals.

Conservation Strategies

  • Shriparna Dutta, a researcher with the Turtle Survival Alliance, outlined the identified turtle species in the region, emphasizing the need for targeted conservation measures.
  • In addition to preserving their natural habitat, the conservation program aims to engage local communities actively.
  • Singh highlighted the importance of empowering women through culture fishery initiatives, promoting self-reliance and serving as a deterrent against turtle poaching.


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