Tamil Nadu

770 Olive Ridley turtle eggs collected along Cuddalore coast

K. Raman, founder, Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation and G. Selvam, a volunteer ensuring the safety of the turtle eggs at a temporary hatchery in Devanampattinam in Cuddalore on Wednesday. Photo

K. Raman, founder, Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation and G. Selvam, a volunteer ensuring the safety of the turtle eggs at a temporary hatchery in Devanampattinam in Cuddalore on Wednesday. Photo   | Photo Credit: S.S.Kumar

Classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Olive Ridley turtles visit the coast from January to March for laying eggs.

The season’s first sighting of Olive Ridley turtles nesting has begun on a positive note with conservationists in association with the Forest department recording nesting sites of the endangered turtles at various hamlets on the Cuddalore coastline.

Volunteers from Puducherry-based Indigenous Biodiversity Foundation (IBF) with the assistance of the Forest department have collected around 770 eggs from nesting sites in Devanampattinam, Thazhanguda, Gori and Sonankuppam over the last three days.

Led by Cuddalore Forest Ranger Abdul Hamid, a team of forest guards and sea turtle watchers from IBF found the first nest during a ‘turtle walk’ at Sonankuppam in the early hours of Tuesday. The team collected 246 eggs from the nest and shifted them to a temporary hatchery at Devanampattinam.

Classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Olive Ridley turtles visit the coast from January to March for laying eggs.

“The conservation programme was started a few years ago to protect and release the turtles into the sea after the breeding season. The team collected 4,500 eggs from 30 nests across the coastline last year,” said K. Raman, founder of IBF.

The team – K. Raman, V. Chella, founder of Cuddalore Help Today and three of their colleagues have been on the job for the past few years. They go for a stroll looking for the distinct ‘turtle track’ left behind by the reptiles while making their way towards the shore.

The Forest watchers and volunteers also reach out to the fishing community in Sonankuppam, Devanamapttinam, Gori and Thazhanguda to create awareness among people about collecting and protecting the turtle eggs till they are hatched. Over the years, several volunteers from the fishing community have joined the drive to collect the eggs and protect them.

According to a Forest department official, the turtles listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 visited the shore from 2.00 a.m. and 5.00 a.m. during the nesting season. Predation of nests by feral dogs and people and incidental killing after, while being entangled in fishing nets or being hit by the propeller of a fishing boat, are the main reasons for death in recent years.

The Forest department has been trying to sensitise fishermen to extend their cooperation for conservation of the endangered species, the official said.

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 11:31:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/770-olive-ridley-turtle-eggs-collected-along-cuddalore-coast/article30632171.ece

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