GIANT SOFTSHELL TURTLE (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     23rd February 2024        

Context: A team of conservationists, uncovered the nesting site of Cantor's giant softshell turtle on banks of the Chandragiri River in Kerala.

Cantor's Giant Softshell Turtle

  • About: It is the first breeding site discovered in India.
  • Scientific name: Pelochelys cantorii
  • Also referred to: As the Asian giant softshell turtle.
  • Native:  Rivers of South and Southeast Asia, including Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and India.
  • Habitat: It mainly inhabits inland, slow-moving freshwater rivers, lakes, streams, and estuaries but also extends to coastal areas.
  • Features: The species is exceptionally large, reaching over 1 meter in length and weighing more than 100 kilograms. It has a broad head with eyes close to the tip of the snout, giving it a frog-like appearance.
  • Threats: The species faces threats such as harvesting by local people for meat, accidental killing, persecution from fishermen when caught in fishing gear, and the destruction of freshwater and coastal habitats.
  • Conservation Status

oIUCN:  Critically Endangered (CR)

oCITES: Appendix II

oWildlife Protection Act,1972:  Schedule 1

Chandragiri River

  • About: The Chandragiri River, also known as Payaswini or Perumpuzha River, holds the distinction of being the longest river in Kasaragod district, Kerala, India.
  • Origin: The Chandragiri River originates in the Talakaveri Wildlife Sanctuary situated in the Western Ghats of Kodagu district, Karnataka, where its journey through diverse landscapes begins, enriching the surrounding areas with its flow.