Those with a passion for environment and conservation of biodiversity will be happy to know that the Society for Protection of Ophiofauna and Animal Rights (SPOAR), a non-profit environmental outfit from Jalpaiguri is all set to host their first of-a-kind workshop on turtles in North Bengal.

Themed “Turtles around Earth”, the workshop will be held at Lansdowne Hall in Cooch Behar on 13 June. The conclave will highlight the basic fundamentals of turtles, the ecology and conservation of these faunal species.

Nearly 20 students from government and private schools, colleges and university of Cooch Behar will have their presence in the conclave. According to Ardhendu Banik, member, SPOAR, there will be students from Cooch Behar College, Evening College, ABN Sheel College and Panchanan Verma University, Cooch Behar.

There are a number of turtles in and around Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar.

Banik said, “It is highly essential to release the wild species back to its proper habitat. There exists around 20 different species of turtles that have different habitats. Sometimes it so happens that the masses rescue the turtles from danger but while releasing the fauna back into the wild, they get confused due to lack of awareness. Often, the masses are not able to identify the turtles from tortoise and terrapin. They tend to release the tortoise back in water. Since tortoises are unable to swim in water, they get drowned.”

It has been found that there is a considerable decline in the habitat of turtles owing to construction boom, widening of roads and vanishing of wetlands.

Banik further said, “There has been a decline in the number of Indianroofed turtles in the pond of Lota Devi shrine in the district of Jalapaiguri. There are several factors contributing to the diminishing habitat of turtles arising from discharge of pollutants by pilgrims including plastic wastes from the temple into the pond. The devout ones offer milk, flowers, leaves and lighting lamps in the pond that harbours turtles. We have taken the initiative to launch a clean-up drive in the pond and increase its surface area and depth. The pond has been overhauled with fence and the nesting ground of turtles has been revamped with sand along the side of the pond. We have cultured phytoplanktons which comprise the major food of turtles. We have set up Kurma Devi temple adjacent to the pond for discharging the temple wastes.”