Wildlife & Biodiversity

10 Asian Giant Tortoises released into Nagaland protected area for rewilding

The species were born and bred in 2018 at the Nagaland Zoological Park, Dimapur

By Himanshu Nitnaware
Published: Tuesday 20 December 2022
Photo: Turtle Survival Alliance

Ten captive-bred Asian Giant Tortoise (Manouria emys) juveniles were released into a protected area of Nagaland December 19, 2022, according to T Aochuba, director, Intanki National Park.

The Asian Giant Tortoise is listed as ‘critically endangered’ under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species

The Nagaland Forest Department and non-profits Turtle Survival Alliance and Wildlife Conservation Society India conducted a soft release of the juvenile tortoises with an objective to rewild the species and population recovery. The animals were conserved and bred for five years at the Nagaland Zoological Park, Dimapur before their release. 

Soft release is a process of gradually releasing captive-raised species into the wild. The method helps the species to develop site fidelity among released individuals and eventually develop the habit to live in the vicinity of the release closure. 

“In the first phase, animals will be soft-released or moved to a large natural enclosure with native habitat for acclimation throughout the winters and allowed to disperse into the forests at the onset of monsoon followed by active tracking by a joint project team,” said Aochuba.

With 110 hatchlings and juveniles from 13 adults, the Nagaland Zoological Park has the highest number of Asian Giant Tortoise. The juveniles were born in 2018 and have an average weight of 2.4 kilogrammes.

The rewilding attempt also aims at collecting scientific information and developing a better rewilding strategy. “The exercise will produce the first-ever baseline information for developing the long-term monitoring and eventual release strategy for species supplementation on the regional scale,” said Shailendra Singh, principle investigator of the Joint Asian Giant Tortoise Recovery Project. 

Over-exploitation and unsustainable use for consumption by local communities resulted in the species being pushed to the brink of extinction, chief wildlife warden of Nagaland, Vedpal Singh, said in a press statement. “The pilot release is the first step to repopulate the species in multiple stages.”

The long-term programme also includes engaging local communities and creating awareness to make them active participants in the conservation and protection of the released species, C Zupeni Tsanglai, director, Nagaland Zoological Park

Read more: 

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.