You can't keep these turtles in India as pets
09-July-2017 Another Update: I am aware that my friend's turtle Tutu is not a map turtle. Thank you for your inputs.
I had done my research from the wildlife act. This was in March-2016. The list may now stand obsolete. I am working with a friend to update the article. Till the time please take the information with a grain of salt.
10-Jan-2017 Update: Guys, I am not a turtle expert, I wrote this blog after a couple days research, about 15 hours or so. I am getting messages and comments that I am not holding the turtle right in the picture, or that it's not Ochuta Map. The ones commenting are perhaps right. However I can assure you that I did go through the whole Wildlife protection act to write about the banned turtles, so this blog is to the best of my knowledge.
Most of us have confusions about whether or not one can keep a pet-turtle in India. I went through the Wildlife Protection Act to find some answers. The inspiration to look it up came from "Tutu", the pet turtle of my friend. If you stick around till the end, you will see the little Tutu.
As it turns out, only 10 species of Turtles are banned in India from keeping as pets. If the little guy at your home or in your dreams is not one of these, feel free to keep it. Just remember to take good care of it, they need sunlight, good food, some time away from water, and constant cleaning of their living space as they poop too much. Here are the species that are illegal to keep as pets or trade in India:
1. Audithia Turtle (Pelochelys bibroni)
The P. bibroni turtles are currently of "Threatened Status" due to hunting by tribes for eggs and meat consumption and trade.
Audithia Turtle (Pelochelys bibroni) | Source: Chelonia
2. Ganges Soft-shelled Turtle (Trionyx gangeticus)
Also called the Nilssonia gangetica, these turtles are endangered in Bangladesh and India due to high trade in the East Asian region at volumes of 30-40 tons a week.
Ganges Soft shell Turtle | Source: Wikipedia
3. Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia Mydas)
Green sea turtles are endangered from 1982, and have been on the IUCN red list since. Their threats include unavailability of nesting and feeding habitats, excessive egg collection, fishery-related mortality, pollution, and coastal development.
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia Mydas) | Source: Scubatravel
4. Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)
These beautiful turtles are endangered because of huge illegal trades and killings for jewellery and ornaments made of Turtle Shell. They hold "Vulnerable" status on IUCN list.
Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) | Source: Worldwildlife
5.Indian Soft/Flap-shelled Turtle (Lissemys punctata)
Although "Least Concern" Status holder, the L. punctata is not allowed to be kept as pet or traded. The turtle conservation society still finds the specie threatened due to high demand of Turtle pets or to be dished into a curry.
A Lissemys punctata rescued in Nepal | Source: Mithila Wildlife Trust
6. Leathery Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea)
The D. coriacea or leatherback turtle have a leathery shell instead of a hard one, and are one of the most migratory turtles. Their population decline is due to the extensive egg collections and fisheries related mortality. They are listed as "Vulnerable" on IUCN list, and some of the species in the Dermochelys family are also considered critically endangered.
A Leatherback Turtle | Source: Worldwildlife
7. Logger Head Turtle (Caretta caretta)
Human Consumption of meat and eggs is the major cause of the population decline of Loggerhead turtles. Conversation efforts have stabilised the population decline but it's still far from being on an increasing trend. The species is classified as "Vulnerable" on IUCN list.
Caretta caretta turtle | Source: Wikipedia
8. Olive Back Logger Head Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
The decline in population of L. olivacea is majorly attributed to the commercial over-exploitation in Eastern Pacific region. No other causes are yet determined but the possibilities have not been eliminated. It is currently "Vulnerable" in the IUCN list.
An L. olivacea | Source: marinebio
9. Peacock-marked Soft-shelled Turtle (Trionyx hurum)
These are part of the Trionichidae family as the T. gangeticus we saw earlier. Holding the status "Vulnerable" on IUCN these beautiful turtles are in danger due to illegal trade.
Peacock Soft Shell Turtle | Source: Le Tartarughe
10. Three-keeled Turtle (Geoemyda tricarinata)
One more IUCN "Vulnerable" Candidate is the brightly coloured G. tricarinata. Considered endangered in Bangaldesh and Nepal, the population is presumably declining due to human consumption and illegal trade.
The G. tricarinata | Source: IUCN
That's the list fellas, if you discover that your turtle is one of these species, please contact your nearest Conservation centre and allow your turtle to live in it's natural habitat. One such organisation is the Wildlife Protection society of India.
Now, as promised here's the adorable little guy who inspired me to find out the current law for Turtles in India. He is an
Ouachita Map Turtle Indian roof head turtle, and does not like to be touched.
"Tutu" the turtle