Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska)

Interesting :

The Southern river terrapin is very similar to the Painted Terrapin in which they both have pig-like snouts, white eyes and yellow cheeks. Its forefeet are flat and webbed, like those found in ducks. This helps the terrapin live in water. They have four nails and gray or black legs. Its shells are egg-shaped and are smooth and flat, especially in full grown adults; the scales are practically unseen. The carapace is brownish to grayish green while the plastron is off-white. During the mating season, the males head, neck and legs will turn black and its eyes an obvious white. Youngs will have flat and rounder shells, thus sometimes giving them the name of “the Plate terrapin” because of the flat, round shell that resembles a plate.

Habitat :

The Southern river terrapin can be found in canals and lower parts of revers near estuaries and brackish waters. Batagur baska is a highly aquatic turtle species, associated with estuarine river sections, with nesting taking place on large on sand banks. It feeds primarily on riverside plants and fruits, however, it also consumes molluscs and has been observed to accept a variety of animal matter in captivity (Moll 1980). Females mature at 45 cm carapace length and may reach 60 cm; males mature at around 40 cm carapace length and can reach up to 49 cm (Moll 1985). Breeding maturity may occur at an age of nine years in captivity, but requires up to 25 years in rivers with modest productivity (Moll 1980). Females only produce a single clutch per year of about 18-33 eggs (P. Praschag pers. comm. 2018).

Food :

Omnivorous, but the bulk of the diet consists of vegetation and fruit.

Current Status :

Critically Endangered Batagur baska has been included in CITES Appendix I since 1975, prohibiting all forms of international commercial trade. It is also protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 (amended), which includes endangered species that may only be hunted under exceptional circumstances, under licence from both federal and provincial authorities. Myanmar formerly had laws controlling egg collection, but with near extirpation of the terrapin within the country, such laws are now antiquated (Moll 2009). Marine and freshwater turtles are included in the Myanmar Fishery Law, and Myanmar Protection of Wildlife, Wild Plants and Conservation of Natural Areas Law of 1994, however, wildlife laws in Myanmar are poorly enforced. Batagur baska is not listed under the Bangladesh Wildlife Preservation (Amendment) Act (BWPA) 1974. Batagur baska has been recorded from Sunderban Tiger Reserve (W Bengal) and Bhitarkanika Wild Life Sanctuary (Orissa) in India (Hanfee 1999), and is apparently now extinct at the latter site (Lucknow Red List Workshop participants 2005). The species has historically received some captive management efforts in India. The Sundarbans subpopulation receives significant unofficial protection from the tiger and dense mosquito populations inhabiting the Sundarbans, but with tiger poaching at an all-time high, this effect may have disappeared. Ensuring the survival of Batagur baska in the wild will require strict implementation of existing protective measures for the last remaining populations, vigilant protection of remaining habitat for these populations, and further coordinated population management and restoration efforts, including captive breeding and headstarting. Working with local communities to reduce and eventually eliminate egg poaching appears essential. The opportunities for a major Bangladesh-India transboundary conservation project for the Sundarbans, targeted for funding by the UNDP, warrant investigation. Moll et al. (2009) suggested that unless some previously unknown viable population is discovered, captive breeding programs may be necessary for remaining wild individuals until such time that it is feasible to reestablish a wild population within sanctuaries (Moll et al. 2009).


CLASS : Reptilia

ORDER : Testudines

FAMILY : Geoemydidae

GENUS : Batagur

SPECIES : Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska)

Conservation status : Critically Endangered

Reproductive :

The will lay their eggs 2-3 times, each time about 20 eggs in a span of 6 weeks. The eggs are oval and large in size and about 2 months to hatch.

Reference :

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Point of view :

Update : 11 April 2017