Bostami Turtle : the last stand

Bostami Turtle : the last stand
I had a chance to visit Chittagong last week. This time I was focused to revisit the shrine of Saint Bayezid Bostami, to see the popular and rare black soft shell turtle with more attention. I was interested about this endangered and almost extinct species and learned that the pond of Bayezid Bostami is not the only place left for this beautiful creature.


black soft-shell turtle  2
Taken from the shrine of Bayezid Bostami. Do you think this is the largest tortoise ;)
Zoological ID
Black soft shell turtle also known as the Bostami turtle in Bangladesh (after the saint of Bayezid Bostami), is a fresh water species { Aspideretes nigricans(=Trionyx nigricans), of the family Trionychidae, order Testudines} It was believed to be an endemic species. The wild population is almost extinct from the world.
The population shows two colours: one with dark brownish-black carapace and the other olive-greenish; the carapace of hatchlings is predominantly light olive-green but marginally darker and having four distinct ocelli on the carapace consisting of five concentric rings.The nesting season extends from February to May.). Incubation period varies from 96-106 days.





Social Importance
This turtles has some religious value in Bangladesh. Turtles of Chittagong is protected and taken care by the Shrine authority-'' the mazar committee', they don't allow any scientific research, or any specimen for breeding in wild. Moreover, many of them believe that these 'mazari' turtles are the descendants of the sinners, who are turned into turtle miraculously by the Saint at 13th Century. Many tourist visit the pond to see and feed them for their such religious value.  There is another local belief is very popular about these reptiles, that if any person feeds them and the turtles take the meal, than his will come true. Though these turtles never take the given bread or any other meal, if they are not hungry.  

black soft-shell turtle 1
No! they are not largest tortoise like the Galapagos

Last Habitat
Some 300 turtle is living in the attached pond of the Shrine of Bayezid Bostami; however, still there is another artificial habitat is found in Gowhati,Assam, India, beside the Kamaksha mandir.
According to wiki there are three habitats left for this turtles, all are situated in India and Bangladesh. Huge population is survived in two ponds and according to another source, it is believed there are few lives in the wild environment at the River Jia Bhoroli, a northern tributary of mighty Brahmaputra. This turtle was also found in Arakan River System. So the spotted habitats are:

  1. Srine of Bayezid bostami , Chittagong , Bangladesh
  2. Nilachal Hill , Gowhati, Assam, India
  3. River Jia Bhoroli, Assam, India
This could be the last stand for this beautiful reptiles.
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References : Banglapedia | Wiki | For Google Earth
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