Conservation and Management
of Freshwater Turtles and Land Tortoises in India



1Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, P.O. Box 18, Dehra Dun - 248 001, India
2Department of Zoology, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL 61920-3099, USA

        A three-year study by the Wildlife Institute of India and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service collaborative on Conservation and Management of Freshwater Turtles and Land Tortoises in India was launched in May 1991.  Major objectives of the project were (1) to determine the current status of tortoises, (2) to identify viable turtle populations and suitable habitats to establish Protected Areas, (3) to set up captive breeding units for endangered chelonians for the purpose of reintroduction, and (4) to provide scientific information and training to biologists and managers on turtle conservation and biology.
        Data on the current status, exploitation, and captive breeding of turtles were collected by questionnaire and field surveys.  A museum survey was conducted before initiating field surveys to determine the present distribution of little-known species.  Sixty markets were surveyed covering most parts of the country to determine the exploitation pressure on turtles (see Choudhury and Bhupathy, 1993).  Softshell turtles, namely Lissemys punctata, Aspideretes gangeticus, and A. hurum, are being exploited but in low quantity.  An inventory of the captive stocks of turtles in Indian zoos was prepared, based on a questionnaire survey.  Feedback was received from 35 zoos.  Commonly exhibited species in zoos were Lissemys punctata and Geochelone elegans.
        Sixty-two geographic localities (45 Protected Areas), covering all but two biogeographic zones, were surveyed during the present study, and information on the status of turtles was collected.  Significant range extensions were recorded for several endangered species such as Aspideretes hurum, Chitra indica, Cyclemys dentata, Melanochelys tricarinata, Geoemyda silvatica, and Indotestudo forstenii.  Detailed analyses were done on the status of chelonians at both biogegraphic and state levels, and action plans are proposed.  Also, a new status listing is suggested for turtles and tortoises to incorporate in the Indian Wildlife Protection Act (1972).  A workshop on “Freshwater Turtle and Land Tortoise Conservation and Management” was conducted at Gwalior and National Chambal Sanctuary, Madhya Pradesh (10–13 March 1993) to disseminate information collected during the present study.

* Published Report:

Choudhury, B. C., S. Bhupathy, and E. O. Moll.  1994.  Conservation and management of freshwater turtles and land tortoises of India.  Final report: Turtle and Tortoise Conservation Project, a joint Indo-U.S. collaborative project of the Wildlife Institute of India and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wildlife Inst. of India, Dehra Dun, India.  108 pp.

Literature Cited:

Choudhury, B. C. and S. Bhupathy.  1993.  Turtle Trade in India: A Study of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles.  WWF-India (prepared by TRAFFIC-India), New Delhi.

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