Villagers come forward to protect Olive Ridley turtles

Villagers come forward to protect Olive Ridley turtles

Residents of Siali village, located close to a nesting ground, joined hands with forest personnel to protect the turtles' nests and babies, forest officials said here today.
The beach near Siali in Jagatsinghpur district played host to nearly 5,000 sea turtles, which turned up to lay eggs on the sandy beach in March.
Every year, the beach comes alive with droves of aquatic visitors, but this time their number had shot up. They laid almost one lakh eggs, a local Panchayati Raj institution representative Keshab Patra said.

"Since the eggs were being dragged out of the pits by stray dogs and jackals, some local youths resolved to ensure the safety of these sea creatures and a village committee was formed," Patra said.

Forest officials from Kujang range were informed. Under their supervision, the eggs strewn around by predators were collected and preserved in freshly dug-out pits. Care was taken to accumulate the eggs in the artificial nest properly, said Patra, who headed the committee.

To prevent stray dogs and jackals, nets were put up around small nesting ground. The forest department provided fishing nets, officials said.
"Our endeavour finally paid dividends as lakhs of baby turtles emerged out of the eggs recently after incubation to make a smooth-sailing seaward journey," an elated Patra said.

A few days before babies emerged from the eggshells, the fencing nets were removed so that they might not get entangled in it. The vigil committee members maintained a watch, he said.

The effort of the Siali villagers was laudable. The forest department extended all help as the locals evinced keen interest to save the turtles, Souvagya Kumar Sahu, the forest range officer of Kujang forest range, said.