- It serves as a digital database, with a built-in digital field guide covering 29 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises of India.
- It also stores information on turtle identification, distribution, vernacular names, and threats.
- Identifying species: If anyone reports a turtle from any part of the country using KURMA, he or she receives advice about the species and its conservation.
- It also provides the location of the nearest rescue centre for turtles across the country.
About Tortoise and freshwater turtles : Tortoises and turtles are among the oldest of all living reptiles.
- Freshwater turtles and tortoises are referred to as the ‘non-marine’ chelonians (a group of shelled animals) as they lack the adaptation to survive in sea water.
- Distribution: Out of the 28 species of freshwater turtles and tortoises found in India, eight are found in Karnataka and three of these are endemic to South India.
- They are majorly aquatic and spend most of their time in water. They surface up for breathing. To swim effectively in water, their digits are webbed.
- They are primarily carnivorous.
- Most species lay their eggs on river banks and in sand or soil, but a few species lay their eggs in mud under the water itself. Their average lifespan is 20-40 years.
- Freshwater turtles that spend their time in both water and on land are called terrapins.
- Significance: Turtles are often known as the vultures of freshwater ecosystems – many species are scavengers and omnivores feeding on dead and decaying organic material in water, while the herbivore species prevent algal blooms and eutrophication.
- Turtles play a crucial role in the food web of aquatic ecosystems, and nutrient recycling.
- While turtles are more or less dependent on water, Tortoises dwell mostly on land.
- Their limbs are thick and column-like. They are primarily herbivores.
- They lay eggs by digging the soil and concealing their eggs in it. Their lifespan can be up to 150 years.