India: The Bite of the Turtle

The Bite of the Turtle

Snaking down from a Himalayan ice cave to the Bay of Bengal, the 1,560-mile- long river is called Ganga Ma (Mother Ganges), the holiest of all Hindu streams. Every pious Hindu wishes to be cremated on the Ganges' banks and to bequeath his ashes to her waters.

But piety has led to pollution. Not every family can afford enough firewood for a complete cremation, so thousands of half-charred corpses are dumped into the river each year. "When these bodies decompose," says D. Chakaraborti of the Central Ganges Authority, "they pollute the water to a dangerous level."

The solution: carnivorous softshell turtles....

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