Context: Recently 10 Giant Asian Tortoise were soft released into protected area of Intanki National Park in Nagaland for conservation.
About Asian Giant Tortoises (Manouria emys):
- It comprised of two subspecies: Manouria emys phayrei and Manouria emys emys.
- They are the largest tortoises in mainland Asia.
- It is the only tortoise that lays its eggs above ground in a nest, which the female constructs of leaf litter.
- Evergreen Forest, dry evergreen forest including bamboo forest.
- They are native to South Asia found in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Singapore (Extinct).
- In India, the Nengpui Wildlife Sanctuary, North Cachar Hills and Nongkhyllem Wildlife Sanctuary have wild populations in less disturbed habitats.
- IUCN Red List: Critically Endangered
- CITES: Appendix II.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972: Schedule IV
- Over exploitation and unsustainable use for consumption and trade of meat resulted into species on the verge of being extinct.
- Total 507 live specimens in seven shipments are seized from illegal trade during 2000-2015.
- It is threatened by shrinking habitat availability as lowland and mid-elevation evergreen forests are degraded.
- These are lost through logging, clearing for agriculture, forest fires, and hydroelectric dams and reservoirs and associated infrastructure.
- Organised large bamboo-cutting in forests impact the tortoises by removing a prime food resource.
- Ethnic violence is a regional issue, and resettlement sites tend to be located in forest areas.
- Nagaland and non-profits Turtle Survival Alliance and Wildlife Conservation Society conducted soft release of the juvenile tortoises to rewild the species.
- Soft release: It is a process of gradually releasing captive-raised species into the wild.
- It helps the species to develop site fidelity among released individuals and eventually develop the habit to live in the vicinity of the release closure.
- The Joint Asian Giant Tortoise Recovery Project was started in 2017 with the Nagaland Zoological Park (NZP) and Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA).
- Nagaland zoological park has the highest number of Asian Giant Tortoise with 110 hatching from 13 adults.
- Long term programme includes creating awareness in local communities to make them participate in conservation.
Previous Year Questions
Q.1) In which of the following regions of India are you most likely to come across the `Great Indian Hornbill’ in its natural habitat? (2016)
- Sand deserts of northwest India
- Higher Himalayas of Jammu and Kashmir
- Salt marshes of western Gujarat
- Western Ghats