Updated: July 1, 2021 8:45:39 am
Forest officials and wildlife enthusiasts were surprised to stumble upon a huge turtle which was spotted walking along a road inside a colony in the satellite town of Hingna near Nagpur.
Weighing over 22 kg, the female turtle was about 83 cm long and 51 cm wide. It was spotted by local journalist Gajanan Dhakulkar around midnight on Tuesday. A Forest department team led by Range Forest Officer Ashish Ninawe reached the spot and took the turtle in its possession. It was later taken to the department’s transit treatment for a medical check-up by veterinarians and was found to be in good health.
Kundan Hate, member of the State Board for Wildlife, said, “The turtle belongs to a species called Leiths’ Softshell Turtle and is generally found in south India. No record of this turtle is found anywhere in central India, which is why the finding is being taken very seriously.”
“We were told that somebody had brought in a truckload of sand from the adjoining Vena river in the colony where the turtle was found. We are not ruling out the possibility of the turtle having come along with the sand. Since it is a female, it may be that it had laid eggs in the sand and may have been pulled out by the JCB along with the sand. Tomorrow, we will check the sand for eggs, if any,” he added.
Wildlife Institute of India’s turtle expert, Abhijeet Das, said, “This particular species of turtle in endemic to peninsular India and is extremely critically endangered, which makes the discovery of the turtle in Nagpur very interesting.”
Das added, “There are records of this species in parts of western Maharashtra, Odisha and there is record of just one turtle in Madhya Pradesh… that is also why this discovery is very significant and calls for focusing conservation efforts on the amphibian.”
RFO Ninawe said, “We will keep it under observation for a day or two to confirm that the animal is in fine health and doesn’t have any internal health problems. After confirming its fitness, we will release it at a suitable place.”
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