IUCN threat status:

Critically Endangered (CR)

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Summary

The northern river terrapin, Batagur baska (Family Geoemydidae), is a large (carapace length to 59 cm) critically endangered river turtle that previously occupied most rivers and estuaries of South Asia (India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar). Populations of river terrapins occurring in Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia) previously referred to this species are now considered a separate closely-related species, the southern river terrapin, Batagur affinis. Exceptionally large concentrations of this species that resided in the Hugli River of West Bengal in India and the Ayeryawady Delta in Myanmar during the 19th and early 20th centuries are now extirpated. Nesting throughout the northern river terrapin’s former range is now extremely rare and the product of only a few scattered survivors. The terrapin’s demise has resulted from extensive exploitation of its flesh and eggs, exacerbated by indirect factors, including habitat alteration and destruction (e.g., sand-mining, dam building, water projects, and pollution) that have degraded the turtle’s nesting areas and feeding habitat. Recently, remnant populations have also suffered from the introduction of efficient mechanized fishing craft with lethal wide-area nets throughout much of the remaining habitat. Conservation action for the terrapin has been woefully inadequate. Ideally, the species and its eggs require complete protection throughout its range. In India and Bangladesh, extant terrapins now appear to be so few that unless some previously unknown viable population is discovered, the only recourse may be to capture as many of the remaining wild individuals as possible to keep in captive breeding facilities until such time as it is feasible to re-establish a wild population in one or more sanctuaries. Less is known about the species’ status in Myanmar. Additional surveys are needed for estuarine habitats in the poorly-known eastern and southeastern river systems in Myanmar to determine if viable populations survive, and if so, to identify nesting sites and critical feeding areas.

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© IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group

Source: IUCN SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group

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