'Sacred' Black Softshell Turtles Brought Back from Extinction Thanks to Indian Temple Pond Caretaker
Turtles (Photo Credits: Pixabay)

The black softshell turtle or Bostami turtle was officially extinct in nature, but they have made a comeback. Thanks to a centuries-old northeastern temple of Assam, softshell turtles have come back to nature. In 2002, The International Union for Conservation of Nature had declared the black softshell turtle as extinct in the wild. The Indian softshell turtle and the Indian peacock softshell turtle are classified as vulnerable. World Turtle Day 2019: Know 8 Interesting Facts About These Sea Creatures.

However, with conservation efforts, a black softshell turtle was found near a pond at Hayagriva Madhava temple in Hajo, around 35 kms from Guwahati, Assam. The temple is a pilgrimage centre where turtles are considered sacred thus protecting them from any harm. Endangered Sea Turtle Returns to Lay Eggs on Maldives Beach, Finds Maafaru Runway Instead (View Heartbreaking Picture)

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Conservation group Good Earth along with the temple authorities are taking care of the turtles in a breeding programme. AFP quoted Jayaditya Purkayastha, from conservation group Good Earth as saying, "There are plenty of turtles in the temple pond. The population of the turtle in Assam has gone down by a great extent. So we thought we needed to intervene and do something to save the species from extinction."

The organisation's first batch that was reared at the temple included 35 turtle hatchlings, including 16 black softshells. They were released into a nearby wildlife sanctuary. Caretaker of the temple pond, Pranab Malakar who have been looking after the turtles before environmentalist stepped in. One of World's Rarest Turtles, Yangtze Giant Softshell Dies in Chinese Zoo; Rafetus Swinhoei Species Moves Close to Extinction (See Pictures)

The report quoted Pranab Malakar as saying, "I used to take care of them as I like them. Later, after I became associated with Good Earth, it became my responsibility. "No one harms them here as they are incarnations of Lord Vishnu (a Hindu deity). I was born and grew up here. We have been seeing the turtles since our childhood. People respect them."

When the old temple was going to be demolished for a new one, Malakar collected the turtles' eggs and placed them carefully into an incubator. With the project becoming successful, Good Earth identified 18 other temple ponds in the are to carry out similar initiatives.