Another Step Closer to Recovery in Bangladesh

by Heather Lowe– 

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Continuing their on-going pursuit for remnant individuals of the Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska) in Bangladesh, the team recently struck gold by locating what is believed to be an adult female that was recently obtained from the wild, getting them one step closer to finding (and protecting) what may be the last known wild population of this Critically Endangered species. While traveling in the south, the team was tipped off by their driver about a turtle that was living in an enclosure at the nearby Sundarbans Resort that may have been a Northern River Terrapin. They followed up with the resort’s owner, Dr. Mosheraf, and found that indeed it was! Two terrapins had been captured previously by fishermen in the area and were for sale in a nearby market. The owner of the resort, who is also a physician and a nature lover, sent his employees to rescue the terrapins as soon as he got word of their availability. Unfortunately, when they arrived, one had just been slaughtered. They bought the remaining female and kept her in a pond at the resort.

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The TSA team (which included Rupali Ghosh, Maksud Rahman and AGJ Morshed) reached out to the resort’s owner immediately by phone to discuss the possibility of moving the female to the breeding colony at Bhawal National Park. After only a few minutes, it was agreed that the female could be moved to the park and Dr. Mosheraf also agreed to help put the team in contact with the fisherman who captured her earlier this year. This could lead to locality information for what may be the world’s only breeding population of this species! Three wild caught hatchlings were obtained in 2013, but no locality data could be obtained from the fishermen who provided those turtles to the conservation program.

The female, nicknamed Sundari by the team, has since been moved to Bhawal National Park, bringing the number of breeding females there to eight, and increasing the chances of recovery for this species which had been teetering on the brink of extinction not all that long ago.