Last Monday, when our gardeners came to the lake expecting a day of routine work, little did they know what awaited them. On the revetment near the southern side, was a small tortoise that they had never seen before in our lake. Excitedly, they sent us the pictures of the tortoise with a distinctive golden brown star-like pattern on the hard shell. We’d never seen one like it either but there was no mistaking it - it was the Indian star tortoise! Wasn’t it an endangered species? We quickly looked up online and also contacted our in-house wildlife experts, Vishnupriya and J.N. Prasad.
The Indian star tortoise (Geochelone elegans), considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful tortoises with its distinctive carapace, is found in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Extensive poaching for the exotic pet trade has reduced their number and threatened their existence.
To keep the tortoise safe, we took it out from the revetment and put it in an open basket. Vishnupriya and J.N. Prasad came by to see our exotic find and to guide us on how to take care of it. They also told us to contact Mr. Ganesh, RFO, Bannerghatta National Park or Dr. Roopa Satish at the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. We contacted both of them and arranged to send the reptile over. Meanwhile, we got some greens, carrot and cauliflower for it to eat and placed the basket in our office room for the night. The next morning we shifted our “guest” into a cardboard carton and kept it outside to bask in the sun. We watched quietly as it popped its head out, walked toward the feed and started eating.
Two days later, on Wednesday morning, we took it to the RFO’s office and handed it over to them safely. Our job was done. Today morning, we received this update from Mr. Ganesh:
The star tortoise is under preliminary medical care at Bannerghatta and will be released to wild after a week of observation for possible infection due to human contact. Thanks for a saving a precious endangered wildlife. It makes a huge difference in protecting the species on this planet.
Bannerghatta National Park
We still wonder how it came to the lake. Did someone develop cold feet and drop it off for fear of being caught? Whatever the reason, we are glad that we were able to rescue and rehabilitate an endangered Indian star tortoise.
For more pictures, please click on the link below:
Photos by: Ramu (PNLIT Gardener), Rashmi (Manager) and Usha Rajagopalan