Red-crowned Roof Turtle in India

Red-crowned Roof Turtle

 

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Weighing up to 25kg., Batagur kachuga or Red-crowned Roof Turtle is one of the most beautiful species of turtles endemic to South Asia. At the end of the rainy season, the heads and necks of male turtles develop a brilliant courtship coloration of red, yellow, white, and blue, with 6 distinctive bright red stripes on top of the head. The males are about half the size of the females and rainy season is mating season for the turtles.

High levels of hunting and habitat degradation, including pollution and large-scale water extraction projects for agriculture and human consumption, have decimated populations of Red-crowned Roof Turtles in India. The Ganges River is considered one of the most polluted rivers in the world and the sandbars along the river, used by the turtles for nesting, have been heavily impacted by sand mining and for growing seasonal crops. Drowning in illegal fishing nets and irregular flow from upstream dams are also a threat to this species.

Turtle Survival Alliance or TSA has made a massive effort in conservation of this species and the species population has gone beyond 4,000 in recent years. The conservation efforts include tracking, saving of eggs before floods or dam-water-releases, safeguarding hatcheries, keeping a sample for future breeding and with a concerted effort in partnership with Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh forest departments.