• The Indian Star Tortoise (Geochelone elegans) is a threatened tortoise species native to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka where it inhabits dry areas and scrub forest.
  •  It is kept as pets, across homes in South East Asia, Europe and North America. Indian Star Tortoises are smuggled to countries like Japan and China as it is believed to bring good luck if it is kept as pets at home.
  • It is also perceived to have medicinal values.
  • Habitat:
    • Indian star tortoise is found across the Indian sub-continent, more specifically, in the Central and Southern parts of India, in West Pakistan and in Sri Lanka.
    • In India, they are found in the states of Odisha, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab.
  • Protection Status:
    • Wild Life Protection Act 1972: Schedule IV
      • Schedule IV: This list is for species that are not endangered. It includes protected species but the penalty for any violation is less compared to the Schedules I and II.
    • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES): Appendix I
    • IUCN Status: Vulnerable
  • Threat: The species faces two threats- loss of habitat to agriculture and illegal harvesting for the pet trade.
    • Due to the extremely high demand for Indian star tortoises, they continue to be smuggled from India to South-East Asian countries for a long time, despite many measures being taken by Customs Authorities of India and international regulations to stop the smuggling.
    • According to the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, 90% of the trade of Star Tortoise occurs as part of the International pet market.
    • If their exploitation had continued at a similar pace or had expanded, a decline of greater than 30% was predicted by 2025.
  • Conservation Efforts:
    • Recently India’s proposal to upgrade the protection status of Star Tortoise from Appendix II to Appendix I was approved by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
  • Characteristics:
    • Indian star tortoise has medium-sized head, hooked beak, and short, thick legs covered with tubercles of various sizes and shapes. Males have a long tail, while females have short and stubby tails.
    • Indian star tortoise is a diurnal animal that is mostly active in the morning and late in the afternoon.
    • Behaviour and Temperament: Indian star tortoises do not like being handled. They can get stressed out and get ill if handled frequently.
    • Food Habits: Star tortoises are herbivores. They need plenty of fresh and dark leafy greens and grasses.
Indian star tortoise
  1. They are protected under schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act.
  2. They are abundantly found in the running waters in the hills of North-eastern
    India.
  3. They are classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

a. 1 and 2 only
b. 2 and 3 only
c. 3 only
d. 1, 2 and 3

Answer: c. 3 only


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