India for addition of riverine species to CITES Appendix I

| | New Delhi
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India for addition of riverine species to CITES Appendix I

Tuesday, 12 July 2022 | Archana Jyoti | New Delhi

With illegal global pet trade, habitat loss, and hydrological projects threatening the existence of the already endangered Red-crowned Roofed Turtle (Batagur Kachuga) found in Ganga lowlands and Bangladesh, India has submitted a proposal to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species on Wild Fauna and Flora for the addition of the riverine species to Appendix I from current Appendix II.

CITES has three appendices. Appendix I has species threatened with extinction. Trade-in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances. Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling trade. Batagur Kachuga is protected under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972(amended), according to which endangered species may only be hunted under exceptional circumstances, under license from both federal and provincial authorities.

India has sent the proposal ahead of the CITES’  nineteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties at Panama City to be held between 14 – 25 November. CITES is an international treaty to ensure that trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

Batagur Kachuga is currently part of Appendix II of CITES that has species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival.

“B. kachuga is or may be affected by trade because live specimens of the species, particularly males, are recorded to have been found in international trade and recent records show that trade is ongoing,”  India has submitted. Due to the ongoing decline in the species’ population and continued threats to the species, both of which are expected to continue into the future, any trade in the species will have a detrimental impact on its status, it further said.

It is a large, exploited riverine turtle with selective habitat requirements, slow recruitment (generation time estimated over 25 years) and threatened by exploitation for consumption, international pet trade due to its brilliant coloration, and systemic impacts on its main river habitat, which have been documented to have caused steep population declines, India submitted in the proposal.

This species is now only known with certainty to exist in National Chambal Sanctuary, with 50 nests over 100 km. It is likely to be extinct now in Bangladesh. As the main river turtle, the species is highly susceptible to major hydrological projects and their impacts on river flow dynamics, nesting beaches, and water pollution.

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