They are finding more and more golden turtles in India. What’s happening.

Last July – the first one, in October – another one, this year golden turtles are still being found in India. Hundreds of years ago, they probably would have become revered animals. Now scientists can explain it.

India has no shortage of animals that are revered or considered sacred. In theory, this should help save them, but in reality, environmental change, population density, and anthropopressure are more powerful than religion – such is the case, for example, with the worship that surrounds Indian elephants, Indian cobras, hulman langurs (black-faced monkeys that are the incarnation of the god Hanuman), and other animals that are dying off in India.

The world rests on the back of a turtle

This includes many species of turtles. And yet, in Hinduism, the Akupara carrying the entire world on its back is the giant tortoise. The giant tortoise Kurma is one of the avatars of Vishnu. The tortoise is a symbol for Hindus – its plastron shows the earthly world and its carapace is the heavenly world enclosing it.

Yet of the 28 species of terrestrial and freshwater turtles, more than half are threatened with extinction. 15 of them are on the Red Book, and India ranks third on the list of countries with the highest number of endangered turtle species in the world after China and Vietnam. These ancient reptiles are killed for their meat, shell and the supposedly miraculous properties of their various body parts, and are also caught for domestic breeding.

One endangered species is the spotted snapping turtle, one of three species of Asian freshwater turtles in the genus Lissemys. They are animals with fairly soft shells and bodies with loose skin. They live in the rivers and lakes of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka. They have protective brown and olive colors.

Cryptopods are increasingly common turtles found in India with an unusual yellow or even golden color. The first such individual was caught near Bhubaneswar in the eastern state of Orisha last July. It seemed like something of a rarity, but over the following months several such golden turtles were found in India.

Their golden color in the olden days could certainly have led to a situation where they would have started being worshipped. Today, spotted skrytonogs are caught and killed quite indiscriminately in India, and their numbers are also declining due to pollution of the waters in which they live, especially in the densely populated Ganges and Brahmaputra river basins.

The spotted skrytonóg is dying out

In 1975, at the request of Bangladesh, it was placed under the CITES convention that regulates wildlife trade. This freshwater turtle is quite large and therefore provides a lot of meat to those who hunt it. Its eggs are also selected.

The golden color seen more and more often in turtles indicates that the matter is serious.

According to scientists, what we are dealing with is leucism, which is a low amount of melanins in the body. Melanins are pigments that occur normally in the skin of animals or humans. These include eumelanin, which is a black-brown pigment, and pheomelanin, which is yellowish-red.

A complete lack of melanin causes albinism, and a deficiency of it is leucism – leucistic individuals are always paler than their counterparts that have the pigments. These cryptopods are leucistic variants of their species, which are becoming more common in Indian nature probably due to genetic deficiencies. This is because leucism is innate, inherited with the genes. When there are enough individuals of a species, it is not transmitted very often – leucistic animals are less likely to find a mate, but more likely to hit a predator for dinner.

And melanins protect the body from UV radiation and are stimulated by it. If they are missing, such animals are more susceptible to the disastrous effects of ultraviolet radiation, which is part of the sun’s rays. In the case of sun-beaten India, this is especially important and shows that this species is in worse shape than we thought.

Like this post? Please share to your friends:
Mobile Pedia