CEC member Chittaranjan Baruah, 28, is a member of the CEC Young Professionals Leadership Team. He has launched a community-based turtle conservation programme with collaborative initiatives in northeast India.
CEC member Chittaranjan has initiated his “Turtle Conservation & Research Programme (TCRP)” for safeguarding the freshwater turtle species in northeast India, with technical support from the Turtle Survival Alliance - India program. The TCRP has started community awareness and capacity building projects for conserving the region’s turtles, with financial support provided by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and Rufford Small Grants Foundation. The TCRP team has received a 2010 Conservation Leadership Program (CLP) Award, jointly awarded by the Conservation International, the Fauna & Flora International, the Birdlife International and the Wildlife conservation society.
At the conjunction of the Himalaya and the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspots, northeast India is regarded as a major turtle conservation priority area. This region supports a remarkable 23 species of turtles and tortoises, making it one of the most diverse turtle faunas in the world. The endangered turtle conservation projects of TCRP have been initiated in the state of Assam with programs to document diversity and abundance, nesting surveys and egg protection, through education, awareness and community participation in the above efforts. In addition, TCRP recently launched the ex-situ habitat development project for certain threatened taxa. Conservation education, awareness and community participation program were initiated to start the above programs in a number of wetlands and in the riverine islands (chars) of the Brahmaputra river system. The program aims to establish a "Regional Turtle Diversity Center cum Eco Park" in northeast India, by 2020. The TCRP is in the process of developing global network and collaboration for sustainable turtle conservation and research in India.
Awareness and capacity building programs are being carried out among the riparian communities and schools in the north-eastern states of India. So far, over 3000 people from 21 villages were included in eleven awareness campaigns and 12 local youths were introduced to field techniques. Recently, TCRP celebrated ‘Endangered species Day’, ’World Biodiversity Day’ and ‘ World Turtle Day’ in different parts of Assam to educate the community in turtle conservation. Several events were organized to involve all the age groups, making them excited about the role of turtles in our environment.
Chittaranjan started his work on phylogeography of certain freshwater turtles for his PhD program and is currently conducting several studies to solve important biogeography questions relating to the conservation of freshwater turtle diversity in India. He is presently undertaking a study of advanced turtle conservation research techniques at different venues around the USA under the 2010 Asian Scholarship Program for in-situ Chelonian Conservation (ASPin-situCC).
Chittaranjan is a member of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group as well as the IUCN/SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group-SA. Recently, he presented an account of his turtle conservation activities at the 8th Annual Symposium on the Conservation and Biology of Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles held in Orlando, Florida (August 16-19, 2010) which was co-hosted by the Turtle Survival Alliance and the IUCN Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group.
For more information, contact Chittaranjan Baruah, Research Associate, Bioinformatics Center, Department of Zoology, Gauhati University, Assam, India
Ongoing turtle projects by the TCRP