From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Op Save Kurma
Mains level : Wildlife conservation in India
A first-of-its-kind rehabilitation centre for freshwater turtles will be inaugurated in Bihar’s Bhagalpur forest division in January 2020.
About the rehab centre
- The centre, spread over half a hectare, will be able to shelter 500 turtles at a time.
- Earlier, rescued turtles were released into rivers without much treatment in the absence of any facility.
- In the rehab centre they will be properly monitored before being released in their natural habitat.
Why need such centre?
- The need to build such a centre was felt after several turtles were found severely wounded and sick when rescued from smuggles by rescue teams.
- This centre will play a significant role in treating these animals and their proper upkeep before being returned to their natural habitat.
- Eastern Bihar has been an ideal breeding ground for turtles.
- In Bhagalpur, the flow of water in the Ganga is ample. Also, there are many sandbanks in the middle of the river, which are ideal breeding ground for turtles.
Significance of turtles
- According to environmentalists, the turtles play a significant role in the river by scavenging dead organic materials and diseased fish.
- They control fish population by their predation and control aquatic plants and weeds.
- They are also described as indicators of healthy aquatic ecosystems.
- According to a recent study conducted by Traffic India, around 11,000 turtles are being smuggled in India every year. In the past 10 years, as many as 110,000 turtles have been traded.
- These species are now under severe threats due to habitat fragmentation and loss through dams and barrages, pollution, illegal poaching, accidental drowning through fishing nets and threats to their nesting habitats etc.
- The turtles have come under serious threat primarily for two reasons — food and the flourishing pet trade.
- Turtles are being frequently targeted for meat due to the prevailing belief that it gives an energy boost and keeps various diseases away.
Operation Save Kurma
- It is a periodic species specific operation on turtles conducted by Wildlife Crimes Control Bureau since 2017.
- Under this, a total of 15,739 live turtles were recovered from 45 suspects, having inter-state linkages.
- It helped the enforcement agencies to focus on the existing trade routes and major trade hubs in the country, which will be continued in future.