Ropes of the forestry department in the fishing community for the cause
Forest Department efforts to feed the Olive Ridley turtle – the ocean’s most endangered species – are paying off in the Vaakudu mandal of Nellore District.
Officials are shackling the fishing community in the area to help with conservation efforts.
“We constantly monitor the turtle tracks in the sand at night, while thousands of women regularly visit the beach to lay eggs,” said a fisherman named Jallel from the village of Nawabpeta, along with his wife Zeenat Begum.
He shows a notebook he kept with a list of the young animals rescued and is proud that they hatched 7,000 young animals this season and pushed them back into the sea without being attacked by predators. The turtles live with them for five months each year, they said, and in their own way prepared for World Turtle Day on May 23 by releasing a group of hatchlings into the sea.
This is not a bad feat as only one in 1,000 turtle chicks survives as many of them fall prey to predators and die after being caught in trawler nets.
“I hope that one day our beach will also be a nesting site for Olive Ridleys like Gahirmatha in Odisha,” said Jallel.
Like him, other fishermen from other villages in the Vaakadu Mandal have interfered with their contributions to the cause.
Olive Ridley turtles synchronously nest in large numbers in Arribadas and come to the coast between November and January. They lay their eggs in conical nests that are about 1.5 feet deep. After 45 to 50 days, the young return to the sea.
“The Ministry of Forestry’s persistent efforts in partnership with the TREE Foundation, Chennai, to abseil in the local fishing community have paid off. They had held a series of meetings with parishioners for over a decade to improve the socio-economic benefits to the local community, including fish yields, and selected a group of warriors to work on the cause. This has produced results, ”said Sullurpet Wildlife Divisional Forest Officer D. Ravinder Reddy.
Since 2013, the department has facilitated the rescue of 45,000 turtle chicks before they were released into the sea, added Forest Session Officer G. Srinivas. This year alone, 16,500 eggs were hatched in the wildlife department and released into the sea, he said.