Status, Biology, Conservation, and Management
of Tortoises and Turtles in the Himalayan Foothills of Nepal

Lissemys punctata.


Central Department of Zoology, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur Campus, Kathmandu, Nepal

        ABSTRACT:  The tortoises and turtles of Nepal have intrinsic biological, educational, religious, and inspirational value.  They are deeply rooted in the Hindu and Buddhist cultures and traditional medicine.  They are unique and are worthy of long-term conservation and management.
        Up to the end of the nineteenth century, chelonians were widely distributed throughout the wetlands of the Terai lowlands and the Himalayan foothills of Nepal.  However, populations in the floodplains of the Koshi, Gandaki, Karnali, and Mahakali rivers are now in steep decline as a result of habitat alteration (dam construction, deforestation, and draining of swamps), overfishing, pollution, and illegal hunting and trade.
        The present status and distribution of Aspideretes gangeticus, A. hurum, Chitra indica, Geoclemys hamiltonii, Hardella thurjii, Lissemys punctata, Melanochelys tricarinata, M. trijuga, Kachuga dhongoka, K. kachuga, K. smithii, K. tecta, K. tentoria, and Indotestudo elongata are described.  Various causes for population declines are examined, and recommendations are made for research and conservation action.

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