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Turtles & Tortoises : The Longest Living Species

Updated: Jun 4

Turtles & Tortoises : The Longest Living Species

Indian Roofed turtle

Black - spotted Pond Turtle

 Indian Flapshell turtle

Aldabra Giant Tortoise

  As per Indian mythology, ‘Kurma avtar’ is the 2nd incarnation of Lord Vishnu which is believed to be happened in the Satya Yuga. According to legends, during samudra manthan (churning of the ocean) Lord Vishnu provided support to the earth by taking it on his back as Kurma avtar.

·         The Sanskrit word Kurma means ‘Turtle” and ‘Tortoise’. They belong to ‘Testudines or Chelonia  order.

·         The turtles & tortoises are believed to be the longest living species having life span varying from 50 to 150 years.

·         Turtles & tortoises play significant role in water bodies by scavenging dead organic materials, excessive growth of aquatic plants, weeds etc. Their presence in water bodies is an indicator of a healthy aquatic system.

  • Its Hindi name is कछुआ ‘, कुर्म  , कच्छप .


                         Salient Features of Turtles

·        They spend most of their time in water.

·        They have thinner, more water dynamic shells.

·        They have webbed feet which help them in moving inside water bodies.

·        They are omnivorous. Feed mainly on fish, frog, molluscs, jellyfish, weeds, water plants etc.


                   Salient Features of Tortoises

·        They spend more time on land.

·        They have rounded and domed shape shells.

·        They are generally herbivorous. Feed mainly on grasses, leafy vegetables etc.


# Recently we have clicked some photos of turtles and tortoises at Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, Allen Forest lake area at Kanpur and at Madras Crocodile Park on Mahabalipuram road. Some of them are displayed here for visual delight.


(i)          Indian Roofed Turtle

·        A hard-shell turtle, found in fresh water of wetlands and rivers.

·        It has head with orange or reddish crescent shaped post ocular marking, curving up from below the eyes to meet at forehead, neck is dark with thin yellow stripes around.

·        IUCN conservation status: Least Concern (LC).


Indian Roofed Turtle


                           (ii) Black-spotted Pond Turtle

·        A hard-shell turtle, found in fresh water wetlands and rivers.

·        Body mainly black with yellowish streaks or spots.

·        IUCN conservation status: Vulnerable (VU).


Black-spotted Pond Turtle

(ii) Indian Flapshell turtle

·        A fresh water turtle found in wetlands and rivers.

·        IUCN conservation status: Vulnerable (VU).


  Indian Flapshell turtle

(iii) Aldabra Giant Tortoise

·        A large size tortoise.

·     The carapace is brown with a high, domed shape. The species has stocky, heavily scaled legs to support its heavy body.

·        IUCN conservation status: Vulnerable (VU).

# The number of turtles & tortoises are decreasing sharply due to loss of natural habitat, closure of canal systems, pollution in water bodies due to dumping of untreated effluents, sewage, illegal poaching and smuggling, construction of dams & barrages etc. We all should make effort to protect them for the sustainability of our ecology.

         Dedicated to the World Environment Day - 5th June.


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