Turtle populations all over India have declined significantly in the last few decades. A variety of human activities are direct and indirect factors attributed to the decline. Six out of twelve species found in the Ganga are deemed endangered and categorised so Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Yet the population of turtles has plunged drastically primarily due to over exploitation, activities along the rivers, waste disposal and habitat loss. Poaching and smuggling of turtles are another significant factor and illegal exports to South East Asian markets like Singapore and Hong Kong continue.
While there are conservation programmes all around the country, effective management strategies require scientific information on population, ecology and life history of the turtles. Dehradun based Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) scientist Dr. Archana Bahugna, specializing in Mammology will collect information on the current state of turtles in the Ganga, between Haridwar and Kanpur. Experts believe that rigorous protection, legislation and public awareness are required to bring about change. Crocodile conservation successes can point the way in preserving turtles living in similar conditions.