Indian Roofed Turtles

    It has now become my routine every winters to visit Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur (Rajasthan, India). It’s a great place for bird-watching and to explore the nature’s beauty. You might have heard this park being called “Bird’s Paradise”,but my experience was no less stunning about the black Indian turtles.

    This day has no exception when we headed inside the park, looking to photograph the “snake birds” or “Darters” in the two adjacent ponds. Unfortunately, we could not see the darters in water as they were relaxing and seems already had the feast before we came in. 

    The dawn became morning and the sun very quickly made it’s presence felt with it’s warmth. This allowed the turtles to come out of the water and bask in the sunshine.I was really amazed to see them so close and captured them at eye level. The still water of the pond served as a perfect mirror, showing their reflections.

    Turtle pair coming out of the pond

    You can see nature in all its beauty all around  the Keoladeo National Park. I saw numerous of ponds across, and they are very clean and good for turtle habitats and conservation. 

    Turtle’s Habitats

    Now is the time to give away some knowledge for free. The Black Indian turtles are also called “Indian pond terrapin” and the scientific name is “Melanochelys trijuga”.It’s a medium size turtle and may vary from 38 to 45 cm in length.This family of of turtles has the most attractive body colour and features. Even the head of turtle may have a scattering of orange or yellow spots and it’s shell is very hard. The shell can be anywhere  between dark brown and black in colour and quite often it has three yellowish ridges.

    The image below is of the first turtle I have ever photographed. This guy was really shy and it was so difficult to click. I managed to take his picture through the branches.

    My first turtle

    Indian black turtle breeds during the rainy season between August to October. One frequently asked question is, how do you tell a male from a female turtle? It isn’t difficult at all to tell them apart, if you know what to look for. One way is to look at their shells.  The males have a concave shell, whereas the female’s shell is either flat or slightly convex for ease during mating. The other “tell” is the tail of their tales. The male of the species has a tail that’s slightly longer and wider at the base. With a practice eye, you could even distinguish a male from a female by their size and their toe nails.

     Three is crowd

    The turtles are generally very shy. However, they reward your patience by playing hide-and-seek in and out of the water. Even a slight movement can spook them and make them rush back to the safety of the water’s depths.

     Can you see, I am here

        Turtles cannot survive without contaminant-free water and its surrounding ecosystem. It has been observed that water even from human-cultivated gardens or farms carries contaminants in the form of pesticides. When this water gets mixed with the pond water, it causes all sorts of problems for our little friends. Humans, being the “intelligent” species in this relationship, have the duty to keep their environment free of such trouble.

    We are their guardians. Let’s do our bit for saving nature and saving the turtles.

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    © Sudhanshu Tiwari Photography