India’s proposal for enhanced protection to Leith’s softshell turtle adopted at wildlife summit in Panama

India has strengthened protection to Leith’s Soft-shelled Turtle under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, CITES. India’s proposal for transferring Leith’s Softshell Turtle from Appendix II to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, has been adopted by the Conference of Parties to CITES in its 19th Meeting at Panama. This will ensure that legal international trade in the species does not take place for commercial purposes. It will also ensure that international trade in captive-bred specimens only takes place from registered facilities and higher penalties are provided for illegal trade of the species.

The proposal was introduced by Director General of Forests and Special Secretary in the Environment Ministry, Chandra Prakash Goyal on 23rd November when the Committee I of CoP took up the proposal for consideration.

Leith’s Softshell Turtle is a large fresh water soft-shelled turtle which is endemic to peninsular India and it inhabits rivers and reservoirs. The turtle species has been subject to intensive exploitation over the past 30 years. It has been poached and illegally consumed within India. It has also been illegally traded abroad for meat. The population of this turtle species is estimated to have declined by 90 percent over the past 30 years. The species is now difficult to find. It is classified as ‘Critically Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

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