The Indian Flapshell Turtle

The Indian flapshell turtle is a freshwater species of turtle and is found in many states in India. It is a relatively small soft-shell turtle with a carapace length of up to 350 millimetres. The “flap-shelled” name stems from the presence of femoral flaps, which are located on the plastron. These flaps of skin cover the limbs of the turtle when they retract into the shell.

UPSC tends to ask objective questions on species in the news.

Learn about the basic facts about the Indian Flapshell Turtle for the IAS Exam preparation.

Why is the Indian Flapshell Turtle in the news?

In November 2021, the forest officials seized 40 turtles from Malkangiri in Odisha, which is alleged to be a smuggling racket.

List of Current Affairs Articles for UPSC

Why are turtles smuggled?

Various reasons that lead to the smuggling and killing of turtles are given below:

  • Turtles are supposed to have aphrodisiac properties
  • They are used as livestock feed
  • Leather is made from their skins
  • Potions are made from their blood
  • Turtles are also used as fishing bait
  • They are also used for meat and medicines

Turtles are Class 1 species of the water animal and smuggling them is a non-bailable offence under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Wildlife Protection Act 1972

  • The Act regulates the protection of birds, wild animals and plants across India.
  • The Act contains 6 Schedules, namely Schedule I, II, III, IV, V and VI. These Schedules provide different levels of protection to various species.
  • Schedule I:
    • Schedule I prohibits the hunting of species mentioned in it except if they pose a danger to human life or are extremely disabled or suffering from disease beyond recovery.
    • Highest penalties are imposed on those who violate the provisions of Schedule I.
  • Important species under Schedule I
  • Andaman wild pig – Black Buck
  • Cheetah – Chinkara or Indian Gazelle
  • Clouded Leopard – Dugong
  • Gangetic dolphin – Gaur or Indian bison
  • Golden Langur – Himalayan Tahr
  • Indian Elephant – Indian Lion
  • Kashmir Stag – Lesser or Red Panda
  • Lion-tailed Macaque – Malabar Civet
  • Nilgiri Tahr – Rhinoce

To get comprehensive coverage on the topic, ‘Wildlife Protection Act 1972’, check the linked article.

Important Facts about Indian Flapshell Turtle

Also known as

Lissemys punctata

Status of the turtle under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

It comes under Schedule 1 Part II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Status under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

It is listed as Vulnerable

Learn about the IUCN Red List in the linked post.

Geographical distribution

India, Bangladesh, Myanmar; Nepal and Pakistan

Found in (India)

  • Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (Uttar Pradesh)
  • Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary (Bihar)
  • Chambal National Park (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Kaziranga National Park (Assam)
  • Peechi-Vazhani Wildlife Sanctuary (Kerala)
  • Chilika Lake
  • Gahirmatha Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Nandan Kadan National Park (Orissa)
  • Harike Lake (Punjab)
  • Keoladeo National Park (Rajasthan)

Find about important national parks in India in the linked article.

Threats

  • Human intrusion and disturbance in the form of recreational activities
  • Residential and commercial development
  • Fishing and harvesting aquatic resources
  • Natural system modifications, eg: building dams and water management
  • Pollution in the form of agricultural and forestry effluents.

Status in CITES

  • It is part of CITES Appendix II.
  • Appendix II allows international commercial trade in the species on the condition that such trade is not harmful to the species and is subject to national trade legislation.

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