Biodiversity Nepal
For the Future Generation

A turtle’s call for attention

Turtles are one of the oldest living vertebrates in the world playing a crucial role in balancing the ecosystems.

Do you recognize me? Hello. Yeah, I am talking to you all. You people may be eager about me so I thought like why not introduce myself through your language. I am Chitra indica. I am popularly known as a small-headed softshell turtle. You may not know me but I am the largest turtle found in Nepal. Some call me  Chitra, others Badahar, few others Kataiya,  and few others Gynorhiya in Nepal.

Yeah, I seem quite popular. I have a peculiar appearance; a tiny head with a dorsoventrally rounded shell but I pose quite a wide mouth which enables me to swallow even big fishes. Like in other softshell turtles, my nose is elongated like a short snorkel and has a leathery skin shell. With this information, I think you can recognize me when we get a chance to meet but, No offense please! otherwise you will get a strike with my little head.

Photo courtesy: Tapil Prakash Rai

I am one of the important species of turtle in Nepal but I am heavily exploited by the fisherman. So, I am rarely seen these days. People have categorized me under Appendix II in CITES and as Endangered on IUCN Red List.

Almost a decade ago, Bista and Shah had seen me near the Ghodaghodii lake area in Kailali district in western Nepal but I had not been captured ever since. My family members have also been reported from Kechana Jheel and Koshi Barrage in 1999 AD. This proves that we are the inhabitants of Nepal.

I don’t know why I have frequently been searched by so-called researchers. From 2010 to 2017, my occurrence was mostly seen in the Amaltari- Tribeni area of the Chitwan National Park in central Nepal.

I am not scared of those conservationists, but I hate the hunters and ignorants. They fish illegally, wash their dirty clothes, Oh they even bath and degrade our habitat. I mean, why don’t people listen to scientists because there is absolutely no scientific evidence to use our shells for medical or pharmaceutical treatments. The use of our bones is nothing more than a superstition. Overexploitation for our meat and eggs for traditional medicines definitely threatens the survival of my family.

Sadly in Nepal, we turtles were never a priority group for conservation and the present situation has also not improved. Governmental protection is also typically limited to the conservation of large mammals. The establishment of protected areas is centered on charismatic keystone species. And yes you guessed it right, it’s no surprise that our status and current distribution in Nepal are poorly known. All our records have been superficial for baseline information.

Not only I am in danger, but my friends, family, and turtles community of Nepal are under serious threat. Thus, you guys need to be conscious of my friends and support extensive research urgently. Yes, researchers seem concerned about our survival but they are nothing without your support and cooperation. Tell me are you concerned to save us? 

Want to know more about me, then click Academia, Biotaxa, Research gate, Arco Nepal.

Author: Chitra Rekha Basyal is a BSc Forestry graduate with a profound passion for wildlife research and conservation. She has done research projects on endangered reptile species like Gharial crocodile and Elongated tortoise. Currently, she is working as an intern at Red Panda Network, Nepal.

Source Academia Research gate
Via Arco Nepal

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