Updated on - 31/Oct/2022 Assam now has a new home for the critically endangered black softshell turtle. A Tributary of the Beki river that drains into the Brahmaputra river in Western Assam confirmed the sighting of a Black Softshell Turtle at the Manas National Park.
Earlier the presence of black softshell turtles was reported from Kaziranga National Park, Pakke Tiger Reserve, and Nameri Tiger Reserve. They may also be dispensed in Assam’s Kaziranga in the Orang Riverine landscape. A few isolated populations have also been found in temple ponds in Assam and Tripura.
There were earlier reports of juvenile black softshell turtles being found in streams that originate inside the Manas National Park. Additionally, this species is found in protected areas other than those listed above, thus covering a greater area of protected areas.
Researchers associated with the study said that it also indicates that the species inhabits more tributaries of the Brahmaputra than just the Jia Bhoroli river, which flows through the Nameri Tiger Reserve and Pakke Tiger Reserve on the north bank.
During their visit to Manas National Parkthe turtle was identified in the stream using description and taxonomic keys as the black softshell turtle which was located in the transitional area between grassland and woodland where Forest Department played a vital role in their sighting. This specie of diurnal black softshell turtle extensively inhabits large rivers and wetlands.
Also, the Turtles and their habitats in and around Manas are threatened by the immense siltation of riverbeds due to mining and landslides in the Bhutan hills, catching turtles for meat consumption, overfishing, and other such practices. Turtles are also subjected to extensive exploitation, including intensive egg collection for local consumption.
A Study also says that over the last 2 to 3 decades the population of this species is threatened due to these activities and the ecology, food habits, and conservation threats associated with this species require systematic study and monitoring.