Sal forest tortoise


Sal forest tortoise habitat stretches over unprotected areas

      WHY IN NEWS:

Protected areas are designated in a largely mammal-centric way, many equally threatened reptiles and amphibians live outside these

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3:Conservation of Biodiversity : IUCN


For PRELIMS remember why this animal is important ! Its IUCN status and the conservation process .

For MAINS how would be your conservation tools for such turtles in danger ?


SAL Tortoise UPSC

Critically endangered: The sal forest tortoise is heavily hunted for food and collected both for local use, such as decorative masks, and international wildlife trade.
The sal forest tortoise is widely distributed over eastern and northern India and Southeast Asia.
  • However, it is not common in any of this terrain.
  • In fact, 23 of the 29 species of freshwater turtle and tortoise species found in India come under the threatened category in the IUCN red list and are under severe existential threat due to human activities.

Also known as the elongated tortoise (Indotestudo elongata), the sal forest tortoise, recently assessed as critically endangered, is heavily hunted for food.

SAL Tortoise UPSC

  • It is collected both for local use, such as decorative masks, and international wildlife trade.
  • Forest fires also perturb soil moisture which may impact forest floor thus changing the whole community on which the reptiles depend.
  • According to the IUCN the population of the species may have fallen by about 80% in the last three generations (90 years).


  • In summer days, these tortoises select moist patches such as dry stream beds.
  • Such areas should be protected from the spread of forest fire.”
  • The critically endangered brackish water turtle (Batagur baska) distributed in India and Bangladesh also needs such support,” .
  • Many reptiles and amphibians which are equally threatened live outside protected areas where exploitation risk is more,”.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • A recent study by ecologists in the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, finds that the area designated as a protected area network has only a small overlap with the actual habitat it roams around in.
  • “We need to realise that tortoises are no less threatened than tigers.
  • There is little information on the population sizes of the sal forest tortoise, or any such species, mainly because they are so rare, live in remote areas of the forest and funding opportunities to study them are few. Species having large distribution may suffer myriad problems.
  • “Protected areas are designated in a largely mammal-centric way.

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