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This s another Indian flapshell turtle.

The Indian flapshell turtle is a very unique creature!

The one that was brought in to the WRRC, on January 4, 2023, didn’t look at all well when she arrived at the WRRC, at the edge of the Bannergatta Forest, just outside Bangalore.

Not meant to be a pet

The woman who brought the turtle to the wildlife center explained to Dr. Roopa Satish, the veterinarian and wildlife rehabilitator at the WRRC, that she’d had the turtle for some time, hoping that she would do well as a pet and would be happy.

When the woman realized that the turtle wasn’t doing well and that she didn’t know how to care for her, she had put the turtle into her car and had driven all the way from the city of Mysore, to Bangalore, which was 144 kilometers or 90 miles away, to give the animal a better chance at life.

Although she didn’t give a specific account of how she had acquired the turtle, it was clear that she did care about her well-being.

The flapshell turtle is a protected species under the Indian Wildlife Protection Law of 1972, and it isn’t legal for private individuals to possess this wild species.

Dr. Roopa thanked the woman for bringing the turtle and then took the time to explain that keeping a wild animal as a pet isn’t legal, and also, it just doesn’t work well.

Though the woman never intended any harm to the turtle, keeping a wild animal in inappropriate conditions will certainly harm the health of any wild animal.

Wild animals should never be kept as pets

All wildlife go downhill when they are kept as pets and deprived of their freedom.

Wildlife rehabilitation is a process, sometimes quite lengthy, to get the animal well and strong enough, once again, to be able to survive when released back to the wild.

So many wild species – all different!

All wild species have very specific requirements. The various species are quite different, so it takes a highly trained, qualified wildlife rehabilitator to look after them – all this is regulated by law—in India and in most countries.

The woman hadn’t realized all that, but she had noticed that the turtle was lethargic and just not doing well. She was glad that she had brought her to a place where she could get the right care and regain her strength.

Upon arrival, the flapshell turtle weighed 1.175 kg (2.59 pounds).

After a routine examination, Dr. Roopa and her assistants placed the turtle in an enclosure with fresh clean water and sunlight to observe her natural behavior, reflexes, and appetite.

At first, she was observed to be very lethargic. All her limbs and her head were stretched out, basking in the sun, but she wasn’t moving or swimming. She seemed very weak.

She barely ate the fresh fish and shrimp placed in front of her.

A good sign

However, she did make some movements. She was shy and would retract her head and limbs into her soft shell whenever anyone approached her. So, that was a good sign!

After a week’s observation, they shifted her into a clean vivarium indoors for therapy.

The turtle is now being kept moist using a clean wet cloth, and daily sun basking is carried out. She also receives anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory therapy and is given lots of fluids too, to help her regain her health and strength.

Wildlife need special care

A flapshell turtle needs a pool with clean, fresh water. They need the right amount of sunlight, as well as heating or cooling to achieve the correct temperature for their species. Also, they need the right food – not too much and not too little. And they need enough exercise! There’s just no way that a person without a lot of special training can know about or provide all of this.

It can take a long time to bring a turtle like this back to a good state of health, to be released back to the natural world, where, thanks to the excellent care she is now receiving – if all goes well, she will lead a long and happy life.

A chance to recover

Dr. Roopa Satish writes, “We hope this turtle recovers completely and is released back into the wild.”

Thank goodness, the woman who tried to keep her as a pet realized the mistake she had made and brought her to the WRRC.

The turtle will require a lot of care! But now she has a chance to recover and one day be released back to the wild.

May you have a happy life, little turtle, and be able to swim free once again in a peaceful forest pool! We wish you well!

Photo 160084901 / Indian Flapshell Turtle © Maninder Singh |

© Copyright Forest Voices of India, 2023.

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PP Forest Voices of IndiaIMG_4251

resizedBalaji photoIndia_-_Mamallapuram_-_030_-_Arjunas_Penance_Bas_Relief_(490988077)

By Sharon St Joan


The identity of one of the greatest artists of all time has long been a mystery – until now.


Carved into a monumental rock, the Descent of the Ganges stands at the site known as Mahabalipuram, built during the seventh and eighth centuries CE, on the Indian coast of the Bay of Bengal. It is among the most astonishing works of art ever created anywhere in the world.


Yet no one knew who the artist was who created this extraordinary work. Until now.


Balaji feb 2 2018. shphoto


On January 11, 2018, at the Indological Centre of the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, Dr. G. Balaji announced at a press meeting a remarkable discovery – the identity of the chief sculptor and architect, whose name was Kevata Peruntachan.


The Descent of the Ganges is one of the 400 ancient monuments at Mahabalipuram that stand as witnesses to a time when gods and heroes must have been closer to the earth than they are now. The artwork is simple, elegant, and profound, created in the style of the Pallava kings who ruled at that time.


96 feet long and 43 feet high, the Descent of the Ganges, also known by its other name, Arjuna’s Penance – was sculpted out of one single monolith, a giant rock.


During the reigns of other dynasties such as the Chollas and the Vijayanagaras, sculptors often tucked a little self-portrait of themselves into a corner of their work, but this seemed not to have been the case at Mahabalipuram.


Still, Dr. Balaji, a scholar with the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, who has visited and studied this monument for decades, always had a dream that he might someday identify the architect and sculptor. The nagging thought of who this person may have been returned to him over and over again over several years – it haunted him.


The land around Mahabalipuram is mostly flat land along the seacoast. Rock outcrops which became vast carved monoliths rise up out of the sand.



resizedBalaji's photo of chief sculptor IMG_4450_mail


Dr. Balaji pondered for many years, seeking the identity of the chief architect, and eventually was drawn to a series of figures to the left of the figure believed to be the great hero, Arjuna. Among these figures, one can see a man holding a chisel in his left hand. He wears a headdress and also a decorative sword, which indicate that he was a highly-skilled person of some standing – not just one of hundreds of sculptors, but in fact, as it dawned on Dr. Balaji, only this one, out of all the sculpted figures along the wall, could have been the chief sculptor and architect.


At a nearby village is a place called Nondivirappan Kudiraittoti where are found a list of names which scholars have long surmised might be the names of the Mahabalipuram sculptors. The name of one of them, Kevata Peruntachan, means “stone mason,” and his last name, Peruntachan means “chief architect.”


Putting all this together, Dr. Balaji was now confident that the long-lost chief sculptor of the Descent of the Ganges – one of the greatest artists of all time — had at last been found. Kevata Peruntachan has re-appeared to take his rightful place in history.


Most of the figures of the Descent of the Ganges, sculpted on the rock, come from the world of nature. They are animals, plants, and heavenly beings portrayed with great sensitivity.


Towering in the foreground are wonderful, life-like and life-sized, elephants. Nearby, a family of stone monkeys is preening each other. A mother cow licks her calf. A cat stretches her front paws up to heaven. All are shown with reverence and affection.


Clearly, this is an artist who deserves to live on in the memories of all those who stand in awe at the feet of his eternal sculptures — among the greatest works of art ever created.


Dr. Balaji enjoys bringing the past alive – for students and for so many others whose lives are enriched by a deeper perspective of centuries gone by.


Dr. Balaji grew up in Chennai. With his keen interest in history, he looked into his own family background, and he discovered a long legacy of cloth-making. Around a hundred and fifty years ago, during the reign of the Nayak kings, a cloth trading community migrated south and moved into a western section of Chennai (then Madras), settling in the Egmore area. The British colonial rulers needed local people to manufacture and sell cloth. A fort in that area later became the famous Egmore Railway Station. Dr. Balaji has early memories of his father trading in cloth.


Ever fascinated by the past, Dr. Balaji was drawn to a different path in life – to re-awaken and bring to light amazing vistas of Indian art, culture, archeology, and history.

A prolific writer, he is author of several books and many articles. One of his books, TRIBES OF NILGIRIS – Arts & Crafts of the Kotas, Kurumbas, Irulas & Paniyas shines a light on four of the oldest tribes in south India and is a tribute to the diverse traditions that make up the great nation of India.

At the C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation, Dr. Balaji’s quest for understanding continues to unfold, as he uncovers for the world the rich, myriad strands of Indian civilization.



Top Photo: Dr. G. Balaji / Mahabalipuram

Second photo: Sharon St Joan / Dr. G. Balaji

Third Photo: Dr. G. Balaji / detail of Mahabalipuram showing the head sculptor and architect, with the chisel in his left hand.


© Forest Voices of India, 2018


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