Current Affairs, 19-07-2020, KURMA app
World Turtle Day was founded by the American Tortoise Rescue (ATR), a non-profit organization committed to the protection of all turtles and tortoise alike. In 2002, the rescue announced World Turtle Day to fall on May 23rd annually.
This special turtle-tracking app will help in accurately identifying species and help in reporting turtle sightings, apart from enlisting the help of experts and local help centres.
India has a rich turtle biodiversity.
Unsustainable harvesting, illegal trade and habitat degradation, however, threaten turtles across the country.
Only a few conservationists across the country work on turtle conservation, to make matters worse.
A group of leading conservation agencies have come together to launch the citizen-science initiative, named the Indian Turtle Conservation Action Network (ITCAN).
This provides a platform for the exchange of vital information on turtles, promises to engage the general public in ground data collection and provide assistance to enforcement agencies / forest departments.
Thus, ITCAN can lead to potential conservation success stories through its tool, the Kurma app.
ITCAN will also help in observing 2020 as the year of the turtle, celebrated across the world by conservation agencies and zoos interested in turtle conservation.
The power of the internet and technology has to be realised as several people now have access to smart phones.
“If somewhere a black softshell turtle is sold, someone can circulate this information in the app. This will help us in informing enforcement agencies,”
A report released in 2019 by TRAFFIC, an international wildlife trade monitoring organisation, showed that at least 200 tortoises and freshwater turtles fall prey to illicit poaching and smuggling every week, or 11,000 each year, adding up to over 1,11,130 turtles poached or smuggled between September 2009 and September 2019. One of the major challenges for freshwater turtle conservation in the country is that wildlife crime prevention agencies are not sufficiently equipped to know how to distinguish one species from the other, or their protection status in accordance with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) and the Wildlife Protection Act.