Protecting Olive Ridley Turtles Brings Livelihoods to Coastal Communities
Nellore: The Olive Ridley conservation program launched by the PA Forestry Department not only protects hatchlings from their natural enemies, it also provides livelihoods for fishermen in coastal areas of the state.
The department hired local fishermen on a daily wage and provided them with equipment to establish hatcheries on the coast. The job of these fishermen is to collect the eggs from Olive Ridley’s nests, move them to the hatcheries and protect them for a period of 45-50 days until they hatch and the baby turtles of Olive Ridley enter the sea to start their lives.
“As only one in 1000 turtle hatchlings survive, the efforts of our department, in collaboration with the TREE Foundation, are to improve the survival rate of Olive Ridley hatchlings,” said YVK Shanmukh Kumar, SPSR Nellore District Forestry Officer. He said appealing to local fishermen to conserve Olive Ridley turtles pays rich dividends, in addition to being an educational exercise for children in the fishing community.
Shanmukh Kumar revealed that the PA forestry department is coordinating with the Indian Coast Guard and Marine Police to deal with trawlers that pose a threat to mother turtles during the arribada (arrival by sea) season.
The Forestry Department has established 11 hatcheries in Nellore District alone and employed 30 local fishermen as part of its “Sea Turtle Protection Force”. This force managed to collect around 57,000 eggs and released 46,891 hatchlings into the sea until the end of April.
As Sunday May 23 is World Turtle Day, the district forester said with the TREE Foundation, they are running public awareness programs on Olive Ridley turtles and efforts for their conservation.
Shanmukh Kumar said about 8,000 more babies have been released into the sea this year compared to last year.