Asian Giant Tortoises

  • IASbaba
  • December 23, 2022
  • 0
Environment & Ecology
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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.

Conservation Status:

  • 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.

Conservation Efforts:

  • 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.

Source: DownToEarth

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)

  1. Sand deserts of northwest India
  2. Higher Himalayas of Jammu and Kashmir
  3. Salt marshes of western Gujarat
  4. Western Ghats


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