Odisha—Humane Society International/India is offering a reward of 50,000 INR for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the persons involved in harassing and abusing turtles at Rushikulya beach, along Ganjam Coast, Orrisa.
The case: On February 27th, HSI/India was alerted to a tweet by Siba Mohanty, deputy resident editor for The New Indian Express, Odisha, about unidentified individuals disturbing and manhandling Olive Ridley sea turtles. The turtles migrate to the coasts of Odisha to nest.
The Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) is a protected species under the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. This makes hunting or harming the turtles or their eggs illegal and a punishable offence. The turtles travel a great distance to lay eggs, and anthropogenic disturbances along the beaches damage and disturb their nesting habitats. Disturbing them especially while they are nesting is detrimental for their survival and for the survival of their hatchlings.
Sumanth Bindumadhav, wildlife campaign manager for HSI/India, said, “These images show the sorry state of unregulated tourism in our country. The mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles is an event unique to the state of Odisha. Most tourists are in awe of the amazing spectacle of seeing these seafaring turtles up close; others exploit the opportunity to inflict pain and harm as is visible in the photos. The Odisha Forest Department has several initiatives for the protection and conservation of these turtles, and we sincerely hope they join hands with the Odisha Tourism Department to implement a community-owned, sustainable and ethical model of eco-tourism.”
HSI/India has been working to create awareness in schools and communities, along with a training and orientation programme on topics such as identifying vulnerable nests, relocating the eggs safely and other topics. Through direct intervention, our team has saved the lives of hundreds of Olive Ridley hatchlings, and along with forest officials and local volunteers, we work to ensure these turtles have a safe place to lay eggs, away from predators and human influence. Donate now to protect turtles and other animals.
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