760 turtle eggs have been collected so far by the Forest Department with their help
Every year, dozens of turtles choose to lay their eggs along Puducherry’s beaches. In the dead of the night, these Olive Ridleys come on to the shores of the beaches on which they were born, dig a pit and lay their eggs. However, every year, hundreds of theses eggs do not hatch, with local villagers and poachers stealing the eggs and eating them.
Even when the eggs hatch, and there are a hundred hatchlings released into the wild, it is only a few that will make it to adulthood. Those that do make it to adulthood, however, will remember the beaches of Puducherry and come here to lay their eggs, Deputy Conservator of Forests P. Sathyamurthy said.
There are very few laying sites for these Olive Ridley turtles, so it is important to preserve those that remain. Till now, the approach to Olive Ridley eggs in Puducherry was very casual, but now the Forest Department has started taking the help of villagers to identify when a turtle has laid eggs.
Now, thanks to reports from the villagers, during this laying season, the Forest Department was, with their help, able to collect 760 turtle eggs from six sites, including one in Kalapet and several in Narambai and Nallavadu. These eggs have now been relocated to temporary hatcheries in Nallavadu and Narambai.
Along with a 24-hour guard used by the Department, the local villagers have also been contacted to ensure that the eggs are safe, he said.
There are around four or five people in each village that call and give information. The bulk of tip offs, however, comes from Subbarayar from Narambai and Thirumal from Nallavadu. Additionally, , the villagers on the Kalapet side also call in to report a dead turtle or a site with eggs, Valumani from the Forest Department, who has been coordinating with the villagers, said. This is the first year that there has been so much cooperation from the villages. Till last year, the villagers would either not report the eggs, or just eat them, but this year, they have taken a real effort to inform the Department, he said.
“We had no idea that a turtle laying eggs was such a big issue, but now we realise what a blessing it is for us to get turtles on our beaches. This is why we have decided to inform the department rather than allow someone to steal the eggs,” one of the villagers in Narambai said.
In addition to information on turtle egg laying received from the villagers, the Department also relies on information from the local fishermen on when the turtle landings are most likely.