Uttar Pradesh: Around 13 turtles, belonging to an endangered species, have been found dead in the Sarsai Nawar lake of Etawah district, which was declared a Ramsar site last year.
The dead turtles were identified as Indian flap shell turtles.
A forest department team that visited the spot, has sent the dead turtles to a veterinary hospital for autopsy.
District forest officer, Etawah, Rajesh Verma, said, "Recently, nearly 1,324 turtles seized in Kanpur were released in the Sarsai Nawar lake of the district. It appears that the majority of the turtles that died, could be from the same lot.
"But this aspect is a matter of investigation. Also, we have to wait for the autopsy report to get the actual cause of death of turtles. Sample of water from the lake have also been collected and sent to the laboratory for forensic examination.As per the rescue team, the death toll is likely to increase as counting of dead turtles is still on and further investigation is underway in this regard," he added.
The death of turtles was first reported on Tuesday and the number kept increasing thereafter.
Experts are of the view that such a large number of turtles has not been found dead in the lake in recent years.
"A detailed protocol on rehabilitation and release of seized turtles is required. It is quite possible that most of these turtles have died of shock due to their poor handling by the poachers. In the absence of a standard protocol, high mortality among seized turtles is quite possible," said an official of the Society for Conservation of Nature.
"They need proper medication first and should be kept at rehabilitation centres, which should be equipped with adequate infrastructure to follow approved standard operating procedures for quarantine, captive management and healthcare of aquatic animals," he added.
The Union government gave the Ramsar site tag to Sarsai Nawar wetland in Etawah in 2020.The aim of the Ramsar list is to develop and maintain an international network of wetlands which are important for the conservation of global biological diversity and for sustaining human life through the maintenance of their ecosystem components, processes and benefits. — IANS