by Linthoi Naorem and Shailendra Singh
Sheena Koeth (Cleveland Metroparks Zoo), Yaduraj Khadpekar (Wildlife SOS, India) and Sue Carstairs (Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre in Ontario, Canada) traveled in October to the Kukrail Turtle Breeding Centre in Lucknow, the Garhaita Turtle Conservation Centre (near Etawah) and the Deori Eco-Centre in Madhya Pradesh. The three, all veterinarians or veterinary technicians, provided suggestions on how to improve the overall turtle husbandry and gave input on how to make a more efficient diet chart for the turtles in each facility. An overall health assessment of the captive stock turtles was also conducted. Their input has proven to be extremely useful in improving the health management of the turtles at each facility. During their visit, new disease diagnostic tools were developed, along with quick reference charts that will help with mortality assessment and growth rate measurement at the headstarting facility in Garhaita.
Additionally, Shashwat Sirsi (Senior Project Officer, TSA India) in presently working with Dr. Shannon Ferrell (Fort Worth Zoo) and other concerned vets to incorporate a new, improved diet chart at the Garhaita Turtle Conservation Center. The new diet will incorporate fresh fish, vegetables (which are procured and also grown on site) and certain macrophytic plants including Ipomoea.
Preparation for winterizing the Garhaita facility has also been ongoing with repair of the holding tanks, changes in the overall winter diet chart, cleaning the filtration system, covering the holding tanks with plastic tarpaulin sheets, improvement and repair of the drainage pipes, installing wire mesh barriers and utilizing solar panel lamps and water heaters for the maintenance of optimal temperature in the headstarting nursery. (Read about the winterization efforts in 2010 here)
During field trips in the Chambal and the Deori Eco-Centre by TSA India staff and their guests, TSA-India Turtle Keeper Rajkumar stumbled upon a new fresh clutch of Indian Softshell (Nilssonia gangetica) eggs on the banks of the river Chambal which drew home the message for everyone that the conservation initiatives are still a big ray of hope for a better turtle tomorrow.