Kathmandu, 21 August. A rare, golden turtle has been discovered in the country for the first time.
The Mithila Wildlife Trust identified it as an Indian flap shell turtle (scientific name: Lissemys punctate).
According to the Trust, Chandradeep Sada, an animal keeper at Dhanushadham Protected Forest (DPF), rescued the rare golden turtle from Dhanushadham Municipality on April 14, 2018.
Three reptile experts have documented the find and published a research paper titled “A golden turtle in Nepal: First country record of chromatic leucism in the Spotted Northern Indian Flap shell Turtle, Lissemys punctata andersoni” on August 6, 2020.
The experts are:
- Kamal Devkota, Nepal Toxinology Association
- Dev Narayan Mandal, Mithila Wildlife Trust, Nepal
- Hinrich Kaiser, Department of Vertebrate Zoology, ZFMK, Germany
As per the research paper, the turtle gets its unique color from a rare genetic mutation that alters its pigmentation. The lack of body pigmentation made the turtle appear golden in color, with only the eyes showing a dark pigmentation. This condition is called chromatic leucism.
This is the fifth time that a golden turtle of the species Lissemys punctata andersoni has been spotted globally, and the first time in Nepal.
However, the golden turtle was released back into its natural habitat after taking its pictures for proof.