Saved star tortoises in Bannerghatta quarantine centre

Saved star tortoises in Bannerghatta quarantine centre

51 rescued Indian star tortoises were released in a specially designed quarantine centre at the Bannerghatta National Park on Tuesday. 

The tortoises were repatriated from Singapore to Bengaluru on Monday night by the Karnataka forest department officials and members of the not-for-profit, Wildlife SOS. The tortoises which have been micro-chipped will be monitored for 90 days.

Former Principal Chief Conservators of Forests, B K Singh and Kishan Sugara along with Deputy Conservator of Forests, Bannerghatta National Park, Prashanth S, and Wildlife SOS CEO and co-founder, Kartick Satyanarayan released the tortoises in the quarantine centre.

With the help of the microchip, height, weight and health of the tortoises will be monitored periodically. After monitoring their behaviour and adaptability, a decision will be taken on when and where the tortoises shall be released. The ideal location for them is the dry grasslands and reserve forest patches of Karnataka, Kartick said.

Each one of them has been named by Acres, a Singapore based NGO, which assisted in bringing back the tortoises to Bengaluru.

The tortoises are kept in a specially created 4,000 square feet enclosure. The area has been fenced off to keep elephants, leopards and the lone wild tiger at bay. A forest guard and a Wildlife SOS volunteer will monitor the animals round-the-clock. A special night kraal has also been created for the tortoises so that they get acclimatised to their original habitat.

For nearly two years the animals were staying in Singapore, which has a moist climate when compared to the natural forests of the Western Ghats.

After bringing the first batch of tortoises, out of the total 197 smuggled Indian star tortoises in Singapore, the forest department officials, conservationists and volunteers are now hoping that more tortoises and other seized wildlife could be brought back. “This has been a good learning experience for all of us. We now know the steps to be taken, the documents required, the departments to be contacted, and all the procedures to bring back wildlife seized by the customs. We have understood the channels. This is the first step towards bringing the traffickers to book and stopping illegal wildlife trade,” a forest department official said.