An endangered turtle got its second life at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) in Assam’s Kaziranga National Park.
The CWRC is jointly run by the Wildlife Care Centre of Assam Forest Department and the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) with support from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
The 5.6 kg adult narrow-headed turtle was brought to CWRC at Kaziranga National Park by a team of rescuers led by Saurav Barkataki, the former honorary wildlife warden of Assam’s Sonitpur district on September 7 2021, the WTI informed.
The animal was rescued near the Padum Pukhuri area on September 5, 2021.
After the examination and observation by Dr. Tirath Singh, senior veterinarian of Tezpur on September 6, 2021, the animal was shifted to the CWRC for better treatment, the WTI said in a statement.
“On clinical examination and radiography, a large fishing hook was found in the thoracic cavity of the turtle that needed surgical intervention,” said Dr. Samshul Ali, the IFAW-WTI wildlife veterinarian at CWRC.
“Outwardly the animal looked healthy and active, but after radiography, the serious condition of the animal came to focus. And accordingly, we planned surgical intervention, which was tough and time-taking as well,” Dr. Ali, the wildlife veterinary surgeon of CWRC said.
“The surgery took one-and-half-hour to retrieve the fishing hook,” added Dr. Ali, who successfully accomplished the job of saving an endangered reptile.
The turtle was kept for post-operative care and observation for six days.
With the gradual and promising improvement under post-operative care, it was decided to release the animal in its habitat at the place of rescue in Tezpur.
Accordingly, the animal was shifted from CWRC to Tezpur’s historic lake attached to Chitralekha Park and the animal was released under the supervision of Mantu Bora, Range Officer, Tezpur (Central), and former wildlife warden Saurav Barkataki on September 13, 2021.
Locals including the fishermen of the area were sensitised by the CWRC and Tezpur forest division officials about the need and importance of saving turtles before the release of the animal.
The release of the animal was witnessed by eminent educationist Upendranath Sarma, senior veterinarian Dr. Tirath Singh, social activist Pushpa Deka along with officials of Assam Forest Department and wildlife lovers.
Dr. Ali appealed to the audience to use alternate methods of fishing wherever there is a population of turtles and waterfowl.
This is especially critical for turtles living outside of protected areas to prevent ingestion of fishing hooks that pose a serious threat to animals’ lives.