Black Soft-Shell Turtle

The Black softshell turtle (scientific name -Nilssonia nigricans) is a freshwater turtle found predominantly in Bangladesh and India. The appearance of the Black softshell turtle is different from a common turtle.

Key Points for UPSC Prelims

  • Its present IUCN status is Extinct in the Wild (EW). It was previously declared extinct in 2002, but when these were found in some temple tanks of Assam, its status was changed to EW.
  • The Black softshell turtle has a softshell which is flexible and leathery, which does not obstruct its movement. It also has a distinct nose.
  • These species hibernate during the autumn season till the spring, during which they bury themselves at the bottom of the lake. Food is not essential during this period.
  • The average length of the Black softshell turtle ranges from 13 inches to 28 inches and its width varies from 15 inches to 31 inches.
  • Since 2013, TSA India (Turtle Survival Alliance) has been working to improve the conditions of these species in India.

Temple-reared black softshell turtles released in Assam Wetland

  • Recently, 22 hatchlings of temple-reared black softshell turtles were released in a major wetland – Sildubi Beel -within the Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve.
  • These turtles were hatched at the Nagshankar temple, 5 months ago. The temple is located in the Biswanath district of Assam.
  • These black softshell turtles have been released in the wetland under a conservation programme of the Assam State Forest Department, the Nagshankar temple authorities, and NGO Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA-India).
  • During the flooding season, Sildubi beel gets connected with the Brahmaputra. In this way, the 22 hatchlings released in the wetland can disperse after being habitual of this new natural environment.

Sildubi Beel

It is an oxbow lake under the Biswanath Wildlife Division of Kaziranga. The lake is at a distance of 7 km from Nagshankar temple and 1.8 km from the Brahmaputra.