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Biodiversity Community projects

Seeing off the babies of Olive Ridley Turtle to the Arabian Sea.

Turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. They choose to lay their eggs in areas that feel very safe on land. Our Pallathamkulangara (ML-പള്ളത്താംകുളങ്ങര) beach (10°06’18.8″N 76°11’19.5″E) is one such place. After laying the eggs in the sand, they return to the sea. Turtles have too many enemies, and man is the top among them. While Animals such as dogs and mongoose eat and destroy their eggs, humans kill them for meat and take their eggs. But today some good people keep the turtle eggs safe and send their babies safely to the sea. Today we witnessed such a beautiful and touching ceremony, which was conducted by the Social Forestry Division, Kerala Forest and Wildlife Department.

Mr Devadas Pulikkal, a native of Pallathamkulangara, took care of the turtle eggs which hatched early this morning. He was caring the eggs for more than a couple of months. According to him, the eggs need 50 days to hatch. In this batch, there were 74 babies sent to the Arabian Sea. These lovely beings are the babies of Olive Ridley Turtle (binominal/scientific name – Lepidochelys olivacea).

Smt. Indu Vijayan IFS, Conservator of Forests, Social Forestry, Sri. A. Jayamadhavan, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Social Forestry Division, Ernakulam were the chief guests of the event. Mr Nibin K S, President & Smt. Vipina Aneesh, Ward Member, Kuzhuppilly Panchayath, Delegates from Grassroute, Nayarambalam, Rotary Club, Ernakulam and many natives participated in the event.

It was Sri. Rajendra Babu from Social Forestry Division invited Grassroute to join the event. The team Social Forestry may have got hardly five-six hours to organize the seeing off ceremony as they have limitations to keep these babies for a long time. It was really a great pleasure for Grassroute to meet some good people and witness some really nice moments.

Two-three decades back, turtle meat consumption and egg depredation were quite normal at the coastal areas of Vypeen Island. Turtle eggs were open for sale at the local markets during the nesting seasons.

seaturtlesofindia.org

But nowadays, a very notable public awareness has been created against this attitude, as the result of a collective effort initiated by local and international communities and State and Central Departments.

The first community-based turtle conservation effort in Kerala was initiated by the youth of Kolavipaalam, Kozhikode. This conservation initiative has become a model for community groups in Kerala. Now several groups are showing interest in sea turtle conservation. At Pallathamkulangara, Cherai and Azheekode beaches, there are community-based turtle conservation efforts have been started more than six years ago, mainly to protect turtle nests from poaching. These groups are getting small grants from the state, central departments for their efforts. But rather than monetary benefits, these groups are driven by passion.

By Thomas

Thomas is the founding secretary of grassroute. He lives in Kochi, India.

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