Wednesday, 20 June 2012

First captive breeding of Critically Endangered turtle in Bangladesh

One of the world's rarest turtles breeds at Bhawal National Park
June 2012. In the field of biodiversity conservation, June 7th will go down the history books to record the first successful captive breeding of one of the rarest turtles in the world - Batagur baska (Northern River Terrapin). On this day the first of the eggs hatched and the hatchling emerged from the nest
Critically Endangered. 
Batagur baska is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Redlist and also in the "Top Twenty Five Turtles in Trouble" published by Turtle Conservation Coalition in 2011. Extensive surveys were carried out to collect the breeding pairs, mostly in private collections, in the coastal areas of Bangladesh. So far 19 breeding adults have been collected and all are kept in the ponds at the Bhawal NP. Among the 19 individuals, 14 are males and the remaining five females. All five females nested this year. As of 8th June 2012, 25 hatchlings have hatched at Bhawal NP and several more are expected.
34 animals in captivity
Only 34 individuals are known in captivity in the world of which Bangladesh has 19 individuals, more than 50% of the known individuals worldwide, at the Bhawal National Park, 10 individuals at Sajnakhali, India, two individuals at the Madras Crocodile Bank, India and three individuals at the Vienna Zoo. This makes the status of this species even more critical than the tigers.
Carinam
"Project Batagur" is an initiative spearheaded by Dr S. M. A. Rashid, a leading wildlife biologist and Chief Executive, Centre for Advanced Research in Natural Resources & Management (CARINAM) to establish assurance colonies of this critically endangered species that started in 2009-10. CARINAM-a leading organization for research on wildlife and natural resources conservation in Bangladesh is managing this Project with support from the Bangladesh Forest Department, Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA)-USA and Vienna Zoo (VZ). The Forest Department provided permission to use the facilities at the Bhawal National Park for this Project. The cooperation extended by Dr Tapan K. Dey, Conservator of Forests, Wildlife & Nature Conservation Circle, Forest Department had been instrumental in starting this Project. TSA and VZ are providing financial support for this project. CARINAM is managing the daily activities of the Project.
Disappeared from India & Myanmar
Batagur baska was found in Myanmar and India but unfortunately the wild populations have been wiped out due to over exploitation and habitat degradation. It is assumed that Bangladesh may be the last stronghold for this species. Wild populations are yet to be located but some recent captures by the fishermen indicate their presence in nature. Funds are being raised to survey the possible locations for the presence of natural populations.


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