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research is going on to protect critically endangered turtles at karamjal wildlife breeding center in the chandpai range of sundarbans, bangladesh part
Aivee Akther Bangladesh Environment Protection

Research is going on to protect critically endangered turtles at Karamjal Wildlife Breeding Center in the Chandpai range of Sundarbans, Bangladesh Part

Research is going on to protect critically endangered turtles at Karamjal Wildlife Breeding Center in the Chandpai range of Sundarbans, Bangladesh Part


Once upon a time, turtles surrounded most of our country’s water bodies. Different species of turtles have been seen in open water bodies like rivers, canals, Beels, and village ponds.

Now turtles can hardly be seen in village ponds or riverbanks. According to the Department of Forestry and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 30 turtles have been found in Bangladesh.

Although there are more species in Bangladesh, many are now on the verge of extinction. Out of these, 22 species of turtles has identified as endangered worldwide.

One such critically endangered species of turtle is Batagur baska. Since 2000, researchers have believed that the Batagur Baska turtle species no longer exists worldwide.

In 2008, researchers started looking for Batagur Baska in nature to confirm the fact. Later, eight Batagur Baskas has found in different water bodies of the Noakhali and Barisal regions. Out of which, there were four male and four female turtles.

The Sundarbans East Forest Department says that after the Batagur Baska tortoises were found again in the wild, they were taken to Bhawal National Park.

 in Gazipur for conservation and breeding. Officials in charge of the forest department try to nurture and breed them intensively.

However, these sea turtles could not adapt to the environment there. In 2014, the original eight Batagur Baska and the 94 cubs they gave birth to were brought to the Karamjal Wildlife Breeding Center in the Chandpai range of the Sundarbans.

Mohammad Belayet Hossain, who was in charge of Chandpai Range Officer then, is now the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Sundarban East Division.

He said, ‘Those turtles were brought to Karamjal under the Batagur Baska conservation project. When they were first introduced, we, too, were skeptical.

Can we save the animals? However, in 2017, when these turtles first laid eggs and hatched in Karamjal, we were hopeful.”

The forest department says that even they did not have all the detailed information about these turtles of the extinct species. Therefore, to protect the species, there was a need for research to know their lifestyle, food habits, life span, and movement patterns. So, research work started with these in Karamjal.

Four domestic and foreign organizations are working on this research project. These are the Bangladesh Forest Department, Nature, and Life, Austria’s Vienna Zoo research team ‘Zoo Vienna and the US turtle conservation organization ‘Turtle Survival Alliance,’ which belongs to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Howladar Azad Kabir, the forest department officer in charge of the Karamjal breeding center, said, “Through this program, we are trying to bring back this critically endangered turtle that has been lost in nature.

We are collecting information about Batagur Baska Tortoise in various ways. So far, we have released 22 turtles of this species in various rivers and estuaries with satellite transmitters attached to their backs at various times.

From this, we got various information about these turtles’ lifestyles and what kind of nature they like. All data has been stored in the Datacenter in Karamjal, Sundarbans, Khulna. It contains information on all turtles born of this species so far.’

Howladar Azad Kabir said, ”Once there was a turtle of this species in the Sundarbans. Due to various reasons, including hunting the natural environment, it no longer exists in the forest. Except in forest ponds, these turtles completely exposes.

There are 384 turtles at the Karamjal Center after the recent release of 40 and earlier 22 Batagur Baska turtles at different times.

Based on the information available, the forest department says they believe that the Batagur Baska tortoise matures at 17-18 years, with a life span of 40-60 years.

Every turtle in Karamjal has a microchip implanted in its body. Each of them has detailed information. They have a unique ID number of 15 digits.

After eight months, they will take the turtles out of the forest pond and see how they are in the natural environment of the Sundarbans. They will measure their weight to measure any increase or decrease.

If it is seen that everything is good here, they will gradually release this turtle in all the ponds of Sundarbans. From these ponds, the turtles of this species will go to sea by breeding naturally.

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