Endangered turtle species ‘Chitra Indica’, facing threat of being wiped out of India soon due to poaching, could get a fresh lease of life through an innovative breeding programme.
For the first time, the Madras Crocodile Bank (MCB) and the Kukrail Endangered Breeding Centre (KEBC) in Uttar Pradesh have planned the programme for breeding this species, found rarely along river Chambal in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, said Harry Andrews Director , MC B.
The soft-shelled Indica has a huge market in Hong Kong, Thailand and China as its body part called the ‘plastron’ is edible and used in soups. It is also widely used as an aphrodisiac and an ingredient in Chinese medicines.
“Reports say that poachers mostly from the UP, MP and West Bengal, smuggle it abroad via Bangladesh,” said Andrews. With caution he added, “Within a few years time, the Indica will be wiped out from Indian waters because the demand overseas has shot up manifold leading to organised poaching.”
As of now, the MCB is aiming at creating a breeding environment for around 400 hatchlings, which will be placed in quarantine for two years in the hatchery. After the twin year period, a major chunk of the bred offsprings will be sent to the KEBC, while the parent breed will be brought to the MCB, Andrews added.