by Heather Lowe
TSA-India had a big reason to celebrate on World Turtle Day. In coordination with the Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra forest department and the Thane Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), TSA-India assisted in the repatriation of 335 Spotted Pond Turtles (Geoclemys hamiltonii). The animals, which were illegally collected, were rescued over the past two months from various locations in the cities of Thane and Mumbai in India.
The turtles were transferred by air to the Kukrail Gharial and Turtle Rehabilitation Center in Lucknow, thanks to the generosity of Air India. They are being kept under close observation and undergoing health assessments while at the Center. Once the animals are considered to be in stable health, they will be released back into the wild. This was the first repatriation of aquatic turtles to occur in India.
Spotted Pond Turtles are often targeted by poachers because of their attractive appearance, which makes them valuable in the illegal wildlife trade. The species is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List and Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act. The turtles were likely collected to supply the pet trade or destined for China where they are believed to have aphrodisiac properties. The TSA-India team is grateful for the generous support of the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF).