Shailendra Singh, an Indian scientist, has been honoured with the Behler Turtle Conservation Award for saving three severely endangered turtle species from extinction. “For some species, such as the Red-crowned Roofed Turtle (Batagur kachuga), Northern River Terrapin (Batagur baska), and Black Softshell Turtle (Nilssonia nigricans), Dr. Singh and his team’s efforts are the last hope for their wild survival in the country,” according to a press release issued by the Turtle Survival Alliance headquarters earlier this week. Turtle Survival Alliance, IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Turtle Conservancy, and the Turtle Conservation Fund are among the international organisations that have given the prize.
“There are few people who have made such significant contributions to turtle conservation in as little as 15 years as Shailendra Singh. His and his team’s efforts have now impacted well over half of India’s turtle and tortoise species, many of which are among the world’s most endangered turtles,” said Rick Hudson, president of the Turtle Survival Alliance. Mr. Hudson said, “While the full impact of Dr. Singh’s efforts may take decades to see, his name and legacy have become associated with Indian turtle conservation.”
The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA)/Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) India turtle initiative will be led by Shailendra Singh. “In the 13 years since, he has extended the TSA India Program to encompass research, conservation, assurance colony building, community involvement, and outreach, as well as providing alternative livelihoods, converting poachers, and establishing wildlife trafficking response programmes. The programme now protects 18 of India’s 29 turtle and tortoise species, some of which are Critically Endangered, by working in four key Indian turtle conservation regions, according to the news release. The Behler Turtle Conservation Award was founded in 2006 to honour remarkable achievements, contributions, and leadership excellence in turtle conservation and biology across the world.
According to a study published in 2019 by the international wildlife trade monitoring organisation TRAFFIC, at least 200 tortoises and freshwater turtles are poached and smuggled per week, 11,000 each year, and over 1,11,130 between September 2009 and September 2019.