19 July 2020.
A mobile based application called KURMA was launched on 23 May 2020- the World Turtle Day. Union Minister for Environment hailed the KURMA application to track and report turtles.
Highlights of the app:
- The application, is developed by the Indian Turtle Conservation Action Network (ITCAN) in collaboration with the Turtle Survival Alliance-India and Wildlife Conservation Society-India.
- It not only provides users a database to identify a species but also provides the location of the nearest rescue centre for turtles across the country.
- “The KURMA App is free to download. It serves as a digital database, with a built-in digital field guide covering 29 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises of India, and information on turtle identification, distribution, vernacular names, and threats.
Threats to turtles:
- Tortoise and freshwater turtles are among the most trafficked in the country.
- According to a report by TRAFFIC, an international wildlife trade monitoring organisation, at least 200 tortoises and freshwater turtles fall prey to illicit poaching and smuggling every week.
- More than 1,11,130 turtles were poached or smuggled between September 2009 and September 2019.
- Challenges in Conservation:
- One of the major challenges for freshwater turtle conservation in the country is that wildlife crime prevention agencies are not sufficiently equipped to know how to distinguish one species from the other or their protection status in accordance with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and the Wildlife Protection Act.
About ITCAN- Indian Turtle Conservation Action Network:
- ITCAN was formed to launched to provide a platform to exchange vital information on turtles.
- It provides assistance to enforcement agencies, forest departments etc.
- It will also helps in observing 2020 as Year of the Turtle.
Turtle Survival Alliance:
- The alliance was formed in 2001 in partnership with International Union for Conservation of Nature for sustainable management of tortoises and turtles.
- The alliance arose in response to the Asian Turtle Crisis.
- The Asain Turtle Crisis is the unsustainable harvest of turtles to supply to Chinese markets.