This Black Softshell Turtle Made A Comeback From Extinction In Nepal!

Dec 23, 2022by Olivia Harper - F&F

Researchers have discovered a population of black softshell turtles in a wetland in southern Nepal, which were thought to be extinct! Continue reading to find out more.

This Rare Turtle Species Had Been Extinct For Twenty Years!

Black softshell turtles had been considered extinct for twenty years. Since 2002, this rare species hadn’t been seen in the wetlands of southern Nepal, apart from a few that were raised in a Sufi sanctuary in Bangladesh. Now, researchers have identified new black softshell turtles swimming in the Brahmaputra River which runs through India and Bangladesh, and others in Nepal!

This peculiar species of turtle has performed a small miracle, re-emerging from oblivion and returning precisely to the lands where they once prospered! “We sighted the species in the Betana wetland in southern Nepal,” says Tapil Prakash Rai, co-author of the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation of Nepal, who reported details on the discovery.

Nepal WetlandNepal Wetland

Image: Canva

Turtles Of All Ages, From Hatchlings To Adults Were Spotted!

The Betana Wetland, in the Morang district, Nepal, covers 5.5 hectares and is surrounded by a dense forest of about 175 hectares. Exploration of this region is by no means easy, but the most common theory for the re-emergence of these rare turtles is that they have retraced their steps by emigrating from Bangladesh, where some specimens still lived in the wild.

Tapil Prakash Rai says “we saw turtles of all ages from hatchlings to juveniles and adults in the water. This shows that we have a breeding population.” and that “the discovery provides a ray of hope for the species, as it expands its known distribution from India and Bangladesh to Nepal.”

Black Softshell Turtle PairBlack Softshell Turtle Pair

Image: Tapil Prakash Rai

Conservation Of The Black Softshell Turtle

Rai highlighted the need to make the community aware of the importance of the turtle so that they can help conserve them. However, turtles in general face a host of threats in Nepal, says Ashmita Shrestha from the NGO Greenhood Nepal.

She said “we can see that people kill the softshell turtles for meat as they catch them in nets when fishing. We also see, especially along the Koshi River in Nepal, people selling small hatchlings for people to take home as pets,” Shrestha told Mongabay. 

But the good news it that this incredible discovery provides an incentive for local forest user groups to conserve the turtle to attract tourists to the area. Which could help raise a sustainable population in the long run!

We are so happy to hear this amazing news coming from Nepal! Had you ever heard of softshell turtles before? We hadn’t!

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