Turtle and tortoise conservation in Nepal
More than half of the 272 species of turtle and tortoise found in the world today are in decline (IUCN, 2000) largely due to habitat degradation and over-exploitation for eggs, meat and shells by man.
Many of these threatened species are found in Nepal and are under severe pressure with some populations facing possible extinction, including the red-crowned roof turtle, the three-striped roof turtle, elongated tortoise, and narrow-headed soft-shell turtle.
In response to this situation, ZSL has been awarded financial support from the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Shellshock Campaign to establish a regional centre for the professional management of wild turtle and tortoise assurance colonies to secure viable populations of these critically endangered species in Nepal.
Located in the Royal Chitwan National Park, this project is being carried out in partnership with the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conservation and in close collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation in Nepal and the Gharial Research Centre.
Key activities include staff exchange programmes, health and diet assessments, evaluation and alterations of the enclosures, practical training sessions in species husbandry and training in marking method to establish simple database of turtle species, sexes, identities and enclosures.
An assessment of the threats to the turtles in the wild will also be undertaken to determine the feasibility of reintroduction, and a Collection Management Plan will be devised and implemented.