Kakinada: Two years ago, their numbers had drastically declined, with their habitats vulnerable and their eggs being netted along with the catch of the day.
Today, the Olive Ridley turtle is well, Kakinada's Bay of Bengal coastline having become a safe nesting centre, what with the Forest Department and the East Godavari Riverine Estuarine Eco-system Foundation (EGREE), a UNDP-GOI-Go AP and GoMEF project, having jointly taken up conservation methods that account for targetable progress.
“Nearly 80 per cent of turtles hatched on the Kakinada coast; this progress is very encouraging,” said EGREE state coordinator K.Tulsi Rao who had found that the fishermen's community was also aware of turtle conservation practices.
In AP, the EGREE Foundation is one of the nesting places for Olive Ridley, the main sites being Sacramento Island, (Konaseema) Hope Island, Kakinada, Uppa (Yelliahpet) and some parts of S.Yanam.
A detailed survey by the local forest department in the 2010 nesting season showed that the turtle nests were easy prey for jackals, domestic dogs, wild boar and humans.
Conservation measures have been undertaken ever since during the nesting season between January and June, with special camps being established in AP and local community helping forest department officials protect the nests through insitu and exsitu methods.
“Exsitu conservation involves the eggs being collected from the nests, which are vulnerable to coastal erosion and predators, and protected in hatcheries, set up about 60-70 m from the high-tide line and at a slightly higher elevation,” said Tulsi Rao.
Insitu conservation, which is practiced mostly in Sacramento Island as it is free of predators, has the nesting site covered with bamboo sticks and nylon nets.
He said 3,509 nests were protected and a total of 3,78,260 hatchlings were released successfully between 2011 and 2015.