Light, especially of the artificial kind, is a no-no for nesting Olive Ridley turtles. In fact, artificial light distracts young hatchlings, which make their way to the sea at night, and attracts predators.
However, metaphorically speaking, the turtles need a guiding light.
Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra, a non-governmental organisation based in Maharashtra, has been working to conserve the nesting sites of the Olive Ridley Turtles. The NGO has so far protected over 16,000 hatchlings in about 30 coastal villages in the region. To facilitate their work, SNM recently called for donations to procure a GPS navigation system. A donor promptly responded to their call.
That’s just a baby step. As the nesting season approaches, more work remains for these dedicated volunteers.
In March last year, SNM organised a Turtle Festival in Velas, Maharashtra jointly with the Forest Department and the Velas gram panchayat. About 250 visitors from across Maharashtra participated in the roadshows, film screenings and book release ceremonies. Over 120 hatchlings were released safely into the sea over the two days of the festival.
An important outcome of the festival was that the residents of the village were awakened to the urgency of the issue of conserving marine turtles. The festival also brought in Rs 50,000 in funds, which will be used for stepping up conservation efforts.
SNM also works for the conservation of the White-bellied Sea Eagle, Indian Swiftlet and the White-backed Vulture.
Photographs: Courtesy Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra/Laxmikant Deshpande.
More information and photographs of the Turtle Festival at http://www.snmcpn.org/photos_festival.html