Agartala, Oct 19 (UNI) Researchers of the Ecology and Environment Department, Assam University, have called upon students of the Northeastern states to join the ongoing campaign - Save the Turtles Movement- against the consumption of turtle meat.
The researchers also lashed out the Northeastern state governments, saying that due to weak enforcement of laws, slaughtering and consumption of turtles and tortoises, which are endangered species included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, had become rampant.
''India is home to one of Asia's most diverse turtle fauna and out of 26 available species of turtles and tortoises, 19 are found in the NE alone, but now they are facing an uncertain future due to indiscriminate hunting and killing for meat,'' turtles researcher of the university Kulendra Chandra Das told UNI here today.
Mr Das said the university held several rounds of discussions with the student representatives of the region and recently they had launched the campaign against slaughter of animals in general and turtles in particular while urging student bodies to join the movement.
Mr Das revealed that more than 5,000 turtles of five rare varieties had been killed and sold in different markets of the region during the past three years and now these species reached the verge of extinction in Northeast.
Prof Abhik Gupta, head of the team, said the turtles and tortoises were considered wild animals, which are morphologically unique and play an important role in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and fresh water turtles were known to be water purifiers and also used as biological control agents for livestock.
''Some species feed on poor quality forage that is unsuitable for livestock, converting useless weeds into protein-rich food,'' Prof Gupta said, adding that turtles feed on water-dwelling organisms, including snails and insects, that might spread different kinds of diseases and it helps in maintaining a health community of organisms.
''We have also conducted 40 conservation of turtle awareness meetings across the region among various school children and people and trying to stop indiscriminate hunting and killing of wild animals in the region,'' Prof Gupta added.
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