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Turtle conservation in India (Olive Ridley, Green turtle, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Leatherback)

news-details Image Source Mar 09, 2021 14:29 IST , Updated: Jun 17, 2021 14:29 IST · 2 min read

World Turtle Day is observed on 23rd May to increase attention on conservation of Turtles and Tortoises, the theme for the World Turtle Day 2020 is Adopt, Don't Shop.

There are five species of turtle in Indian waters - Olive Ridley, Green turtle, Loggerhead, Hawksbill, Leatherback.

The Olive Ridley, Leatherback and Loggerhead are listed as 'Vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The Hawksbill turtle is listed as 'Critically Endangered' and Green Turtle is listed as 'Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

All five species of sea turtles found in India are included in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and in the Appendix Iof the CITES.

Turtles have been protected in India under the Biodiversity Conservation and Ganga Rejuvenation programme.

The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has released Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Guidelines and National Marine Turtle Action Plan.

All tortoises are turtles, they belong to the order Testudines or Chelonia, reptiles having bodies encased in a bony shell, but not all turtles are tortoises.

The most important thing to remember about tortoises is that they are exclusively land creatures and turtles are adapted for life spent in water.

Olive ridley turtle

The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting warm waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

These turtles are carnivores and get their name from their olive coloured carapace.

They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.

The coast of Odisha in India is the largest mass nesting site for the Olive-ridley, followed by the coasts of Mexico and Costa Rica.

The 480-km-long Odisha coast has three arribada beaches at Gahirmatha, the mouth of the Devi river, and in Rushikulya, where about 1 lakh nests are found annually.

More recently, a new mass nesting site has been discovered in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with more than 5,000 nests reported in a season.

The species is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List, Appendix 1 in CITES, and Schedule 1 in Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Three main factors that damage Olive Ridley turtles and their eggs are: heavy predation of eggs by dogs and wild animals, indiscriminate fishing with trawlers and gill nets, and beach soil erosion.

They are extensively poached for their meat, shell and leather, and eggs.

Operation Olivia

Operation Olivia was initiated by the Indian Coast Guard in 1980s to protect Olive Ridley turtles as they congregate along the Odisha coast for breeding and nesting from November to December.

Indian Star Tortoise

Indian star tortoise is found across the Indian sub-continent, more specifically, in the Central and Southern parts of India, in West Pakistan and in Sri Lanka.

Wild Life Protection Act 1972: Schedule IV
Convention on International Trade inSpecies (CITES): Appendix I
IUCN Status: Vulnerable

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