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Are Lion Tailed Macaque More Fortunate than Panna Tigers: A Tale of Two Projects

Almost a  year after the Karnataka high court stayed the project that had further threatened the already endangered lion tailed macaque (LTM) ((Macaca silenus), endemic to the Sharavathi river valley nestled in the Western Ghats; the sword of Damocles continues to hang over the primates. The Karnataka Power Corporation Limited (KPCL) had launched a geothermal survey  with heavy machines to ascertain if the 2000 MW underground pump storage hydro-electric project was feasible. Besides LTM, the Sharavathi river valley is also home to a diverse array of species and sustains very rich biodiversity. Though the  court stay continues, the south Indian state has not yet withdrawn the project. For the time being, the power project may not have been in the priority list of the government after the change in the political guard, it continues to stare at LTM menacingly. Sharavathi Valley, a Jewel in the Western Ghats The project was proposed within the core area of 902 sq km in the Sharavathi Valle

Which animal is on the brink of extinction after increased demand from china

 


If you think tiger is the only animal in India which is poached to fetch millions. You are mistaken. As the big cat received all the attention, the wildlife poachers shifted their focus to other animals. Huge demand for Red-crowned roofed turtles in China and  the far east nations has  led to a situation when  only about 500 of them  remained in  the river Chambal.  Besides, pangolin scales are also in demand. Recent conviction of wildlife smugglers by a court in Sagar further emphasized the importance of conservation of other species.

Turtle with Courtship Coloration

There was a time when the habitat of this beautiful multi-colored turtle would stretch to a great length in central Nepal, northeastern India, Bangladesh and probably Burma where they flourished in deep flowing fresh water rivers .But   their numbers declined drastically after rampant poaching for their meat and shells from countries like China. But the major attraction also seems to be coloured stripes on the top of their head.  At the end of the rainy season, the head and neck of male turtles develop a brilliant courtship coloration of red, yellow, white, and blue, with 6 distinctive bright red stripes on their head. They have also been victims of water pollution and hydro-electric projects leading to habitat loss. In the river Chambal which has the only surviving population of 500, illegal sand mining has also become a threat.  India initiated its conservation and a captive breeding programme in the National Chambal Sanctuary, India’s only protected riverine habitat and believed to be one of the last viable habitats for this species .

Also read: Global Warming : Another Threat to the Endangered Gharials !

Recent annual nesting surveys indicate fewer than 500 adult turtles remaining in the wild .The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has rated it as "critically endangered". It can weigh up to 25 kilograms and have shells as long as 56 centimeters .Males reach only half the length of females. The red-crowned roofed turtle or Bengal roof turtle (Batagur kachuga) is a species of freshwater turtle endemic to South Asia. The turtles like to bask in the sun on land. Chambal wildlife sanctuary is also home to the endangered gharials and fresh water dolphins.

International Syndicate of Smugglers

Besides  tilakdhari kachua- as it is known in Hindi  - pangolin has also been in demand. The animal is eaten, but a greater danger arises from the belief that the scales have medicinal value. Fresh scales are never used but dried scales are roasted, cooked in oil, butter, vinegar, boy's urine, or roasted with earth or oyster-shells, to cure a variety of ills, says nature.com. The international syndicate involved in the smuggling of wildlife animals was  unearthed in May 2017 by the state tiger strike force .  On July 19, 13 people were convicted for 7 years of imprisonment and fine ranging from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 20,000. The syndicate was involved in the smuggling of red roof turtle and pangolin scales which were recovered from the house of Nandlal , a resident of village Sheopur in Chambal division. After interrogation , Nandlal revealed some names  including that of  the kingpin and international smuggler Murugesen .

Also read: 8- Year After Tiger Killing, Poachers  Get Jail Sentence  in MP

The  tiger force investigating the case found that the syndicate was spread in 4 states . Including Nandlal,  who died during the trial ,14 people were arrested .They  in turn revealed that the turtle and pangolin scales were being smuggled to China, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangladesh ,Sri Lanka and Madagascar. It was also revealed that the red crowned roof turtle was being poached in Chambal river. Daring  forest officer  Shraddha Pandre ,who was then heading the tiger force ,investigated the case. Murugesan was also arrested by Thailand police in 2012, but escaped during trial and was on the run until the tiger force arrested him again in January 2018. Murugesan hails from Singapore and his illegal trade is spread across Thailand, Malaysia, Macau, Hong Kong, China and Madagascar, STF sources said . STF got on the trail of Murugesan after the arrest of  Nandlal  for stealing a red-crowned roofed turtle from a breeding centre in Morena district.

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