Context: In a step forward towards conservation, two Indian turtle species — the red-crowned roofed turtles (Batagur kachuga) and Leith’s soft-shell turtle (Nilssonia leithii) — have made it to the Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
- The decision was made at the ongoing 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) of CITES in Panama City.
- The species were moved from Appendix II to Appendix I which means the species is threatened with extinction.
- Appendix II lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction, according to CITES.
- Earlier in 2019 during the 18th CITES plenary meeting in Geneva, Indian star tortoises were added to the Appendix I.
About the Red crowned roofed turtle:
- Red-crowned roofed turtle is native to India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
- It is known to be widely found in the Ganga and Brahmaputra River basins.
- At present in India, the National Chambal River Gharial Sanctuary is the only geographic area where the species is found in substantial numbers.
About Leith’s soft shell turtle:
- Leith’s soft-shell turtle inhabits rivers and reservoirs mainly in southern peninsular India, in states like Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
- Its presence is substantial in the Cauvery, Tungabhadra, Ghataprabha, Bhavani, Godavari and Moyar drainages.
- Major threats for these turtles and other species are increasing loss of habitat due to pollution and unchecked urbanisation.
- Other reasons for habitat loss include water extraction and irrigation, leading to irregular flow of upstream dams and reservoirs.
- Sand mining and agriculture activities along the Ganga are significantly affecting the sandbars, which are safe nesting areas for the species.
- Drowning due to illegal fishing nets, poaching and illegal trade further threaten their existence.
Previous Year Questions
Q.1) With reference to India’s biodiversity, Ceylon Frogmouth, Coppersmith Barbet, Gray Chinned Minivet and White-throated Redstart are (2020)