By Arunima Singh, Shailendra Singh, and Jordan Gray

We are excited to announce the hatching of 220 Indian Narrow-headed Softshell Turtles (Chitra indica) at the Kukrail Gharial and Turtle Rehabilitation Centre (KGTRC) in Lucknow, India.

Hatchling Indian Narrow-headed Softshell Turtles (Chitra indica) clamor together at the KGTRC.

Resuming the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department’s Endangered Species Project’s conservation program for this species, and with the assistance of our TSA India Program, eggs were translocated to the KGTRC from two vulnerable nests along the Yamuna and Ghaghra rivers, respectively. Here, they could incubate safely and naturally in a sand hatchery.

A temperature prob records the nest temperature before the eggs are excavated for translocation to the KGTRC.

A habitat specialist, the first winter is crucial for the survival of newly emerged hatchlings of this endangered species. To give them a better chance of survival, the hatchlings are being head started under the care of the Endangered Species Project at the KGTRC. Here, they will grow in habitats featuring solar-powered warm, running water, and fed live fish fingerlings. After being head started to a size of 1000 grams, most of the juveniles will be released into the Ganga River where the Government of India is carrying out a rejuvenation initiative. With high hopes, the release of these turtles will help the wild population rebound there.

The translocation team moves the softshell turtle eggs from a vulnerable nest to a sturdy relocation chamber.

The Indian Narrow-headed Softshell is a large riverine species growing as large as 75 inches (192 cm) in shell length, and up to 551 pounds (250 kg). Harvesting for meat, pollution, and destruction of sand bar habitat has significantly reduced the numbers of this species.

This tiny hatchling softshell can grow as large as 75 inches (192 cm) and 551 pounds (250 kg).

The conservation program for the Indian Narrow-headed Softshell is supported by Namami Gange, the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ganga River Rejuvenation, and with technical support provided by our TSA-India staff.

To help support these efforts, please consider becoming a TSA Member today!

Photo credits: Arunima Singh and Abu Arshad Khan

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