Saving the strangest turtle in the world from extinction

London Zoo ZSL has saved one of the world's rarest and strangest turtles from extinction.

It is believed that the giant Cantor turtle with a soft shell, which can reach a length of six feet, has completely disappeared from India, where it has not been seen for 10 years. It is the largest freshwater turtle in the world and is considered one of the strangest because it spends most of its life buried in the sand while only its eyes are visible.

However, it can suddenly rush forward faster than the royal cobra to pick up a crab or a fish - crushing the bones with one touch of its powerful jaws.

Unfortunately, the endangered tortoise is at great risk of disappearing, with only small groups surviving in Cambodia and Vietnam. They are on the verge of extinction, under the threat of local residents' meat harvesting, accidental killing and destruction of its freshwater and coastal habitats.

But a team from the Zoological Society of London has tracked down some young turtles - giving hope that the species will recover in the subcontinent.

In India, it was thought to be extinct until a nest was found in Kerala in 2020, although it was destroyed by sand mining.

The giant Cantor turtle with its softshell, which is considered one of the strangest looking turtles, does not contain a shell. Instead, it is protected from predators by a rib cage protruding above its back, but still under its skin.

ZSL researcher, Aoshi Jain tracked the turtle on the Chandragiri River in Kerala.

And with the help of a network of locals who know the turtle as Bheemanama or Paala poovan in Malayalam, the local language of Kerala Jain found some turtle eggs.

The eggs were transferred to the incubator under the supervision of Ben Tabley, curator of amphibians and reptiles at ZSL London Zoo.

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