Tuesday, January 28, 2020

‘Punarjani’, conservation project for Olive Ridley Turtles launched

     ‘Punarjani’,  a novel project conceived by the Social Forestry wing of the Department of Forests and Wildlife, Kollam, in association with Travancore Nature History Society (TNHS), a Trivandrum-based N.G.O working in the field of nature conservation, was launched on January 23 at Chillakkal beach, Paravur near Kollam. The project envisages to protect Olive Ridley turtles, a reptile that has been placed in the Red Data Book of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Olive Ridley turtles have been laying eggs on the shores of Chillakkal and Pozhikkara beaches in Kollam coast, notably because these are the only two gaps without a seawall erected as a measure against sea erosion. These turtles freely crawl to the shore in the safety of the nightfall in these places, dig pits in the sand some of which as large as to hold up to 100 of its eggs. In course of three weeks when the eggs hatch, hatchlings are led back to the sea by themselves as if by a rare force of intuition. Parental care is sparsely observed in these variety of turtles.

     There have been large scale los­­s of these eggs as miscreants steal them and sell for a paltry sum. Hatchlings also fall a prey to cruelty of miscreants. It is also not uncommon that adult turtles which may get entrapped in fishing nets are often massacred for its flesh which fetches higher amounts in the black market.
     ‘Punarjani’ in brief strives to bring back the lost glory and reverse all these undesirable practices and its primary impetus is to educate and influence the fishermen community who dwells in these two beaches  on the need for conserving the endangered turtles, which begin first by safeguarding the eggs that are laid on sands and then protecting the hatchlings and adults as well.

Shri Hiralal, ACF, delivering presidential address

     The project was formally launched at Chillakkal beach on January 23,2020 at a brief function presided over by Shri S Hiralal, Asst Conservator of Foests (ACF), Social Forestry, Kollam. He stressed the need for conserving the turtles as it may even pave for turtle-based ecotourism in the not far off days. Shri Yakkoob, Ward Councillor and Chairman of Standing Committee (Health) in the Paravur Municipality inaugurated he project. In his inaugural speech, Shri Yakkoob declared that he would win over the hearts of the fishermen community in this matter. Yakkoob himself hails from their midst and he has already commenced campaigning for protecting the turtles well before the Forest Dept conceived the idea themselves. As a token of appreciation of this novel work, Shri Hiralal presented a memento to him. Shri K.B.Sanjayan of T.N.H.S described about the modus operandi  of the project in detail. Shri K.S.Jyothi, A.C.F, Social Forestry Extension Wing, Kollam  said the project is set to succeed if timely supervision is imparted without fail. Dr Kalesh S, specialist in the conservation strategies of various TNHS projects, said work in unison by all parties viz, Traditional Fisherfolk, Forest Dept, Municipality and TNHS would make the venture a grand success. Shri Anzil, who has been assigned the role of a liaison person for the implementation of the project also spoke on the occasion. Shri Ramesh Iyer, Co-ordinator, T.N.H.S delivered the welcome speech and Shri E.S.Suresh, Range Officer, Forest Dept proposed the vote of thanks. 

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