by Christine Bowie
On the evening of March 20, water from a dam on the Upper Chambal River in India was released causing major flooding to three TSA turtle hatcheries along the riverbanks. Fortunately, the TSA field team along with the help of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department was able to swiftly recover all the eggs from 299 nests spread across the three project sites. Most of the eggs belonged to two endangered River Terrapins, Batagur kachuga and B. dhongoka, and were relocated to higher ground. Others were collected and placed in holding containers until the water recedes and a dry area for nests is accessible.
The field team continues to monitor the area by motorboat, assessing the impact of the flood not only on the hatcheries, but on nests of wild River Terrapins as well. At this point it is estimated that more than 500 wild turtle tests were flooded in a 150 km stretch of the river.
River Terrapins (genus Batagur) are among the most endangered turtles in the world with five of the six species classified as Critically Endangered. Once abundant in the major river systems of South and Southeast Asia, these species are now faced with extinction due to a variety of human activities including harvesting for domestic consumption and exportation to Chinese food markets. The nesting beaches along the Chambal River are critical to sustain populations and ensure survival of two species. TSA manages intensive conservation programs and with the help of partners such as SOS – Save Our Species is working towards preventing extinction.