More than thousands species are threatened to become extinct from this earth in near future. We are focusing on species that have endangered today. Their habitat renovations are a crucial component of our conservation strategy. The survival of these ‘species’ has always been a priority for APOWA and great strides have been made to protect the habitats and remaining populations of these species.
In Odisha, the loss of wildlife habitat is a huge impact on our ecosystem. Habitat loss is directly threatening the long term survival of thousands of species. APOWA’s work in Bhitarkanika National Park (also a Ramsar site), an ecological wonderland off the eastern coast of Odisha, shows how our community network is working together to preserve precious wildlife and important ecosystem.
Community Based Olive Ridley Sea Turtles and Their Habitat Conservation Program:
The Gahirmatha, Rushikullya and Devi river mouth of Odisha state is well known for world’s largest Olive Ridley sea turtle rookery. The Olive Ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys Olivacea), which nests along the Odisha coast, is highly endangered today. This species is especially known for its mass nesting or arribada when several thousands of turtles migrate to the breeding ground to mate and nest. Olive Ridley Sea Turtles in Odisha represents about 50 % of its world population and 90% of the population of sea turtles along the Indian coast comes to Odisha coasts for nesting.
Struggling to Survive-
The Olive Ridley sea turtles are decreasing in numbers at an alarming rate. Over the last one decade, Olive ridley sea turtles have suffered mass mortality along the Orissa coast. The polluted beaches make unsuitable for turtles to nests, the high predation by feral and wild animals are hindrance in the recruitment of offspring and moreover, the anthropogenic activities are harmful for habitat and breeding of turtles. Apart from fishing related mortality, turtles face multifarious problems while they are in the coastal waters of Odisha. Recent climate change is leading to decline in the extent and quality of their habitat, population size, genetic diversity and fluctuating feeding conditions, have also been linked to differing nesting populations. To counter the high mortality rate (to predators) and low survival rate (one in a thousand), these gentle creatures have been pushed towards the brink of extinction. This species has also classified in the Red Data Book of the IUCN (The world conservation union) as vulnerable. These species are playing an important role in oceanic ecosystems by maintaining healthy ecosystems, sustainability of fisheries, sea grass beds and coral reefs, providing key habitat for other marine life, helping to balance marine food webs. Many of these habitats face mounting threats today.
Presently, APOWA’s activities each nesting season include:
A. Beach Patrols and Nest Protection
§ Nesting beach patrols have been undertaken each night (during nesting season) to monitor and help protect nesting/hatching activity. This will be done through community volunteers and appointment of turtle guards from local community. The duties of each turtle guards will follow as:
§ Protect nesting females from predatory hazards.
§ Protect from human poachers and human interferences.
§ Responding to disoriented turtles.
§ Protection and rescue of baby turtles, hatchlings.
§ Documenting nest success by evaluating nests after hatch.
§ Determine hatching and emergence success for each species - measure carapace length/width and weight.
§ Identify sex ratio and species of hatchlings found dead.
§ Removing litter and plastic from beach area during patrolling.
B. Community Involvement in Sea Turtle Conservation Programme:
Local communities association with this programme are a strong force in the conservation of sea turtle populations and the destruction of their habitats. Nest protection activities involving local community have been carried out along with turtle guards throughout the turtle season.
C. Community Conservation Education Campaign:
A major focus is involved a broadly based and aggressive community awareness campaign and education about the need to protect the endangered Olive ridley turtles and their habitat. The educational campaign are focus and sensitizing the fishermen the need of conservation of sea turtles for a balanced eco system and practice proper and responsible fishing practices etc. The project has been target coastal villages situated near to nesting sites , fisheries communities as well as authorities, schools, colleges, CSOs, media etc. The efforts are focus on practical avenues of information dissemination such as community meetings, media, film, street theatre, posters; install signage and other resource materials.
2. Sea Turtle Education Program in Coastal Schools: Students and teachers play a key role in helping sea turtle populations recover. The school outreach program is designed to help teachers and students (and through them, their families) not only learn about sea turtles, but to inspire involvement in conservation efforts.
D. Campaign on Reduce and Remove Beach and Marine Debris from Nesting Sites:
The beach cleaning campaign and remove beach debris has been initiate in major nesting sites in association with community volunteers, fishermen communities, visitors, local youth groups, college students and other stakeholders. We have been sensitize and create education campaigns for the fishermen, general public, visitors and tourists on the need to reduce plastic waste in nesting beaches.
E. Capacity Building and Skill Development Training :
The objectives of the capacity building and skill development training workshop is to facilitate exchange of information, expertise and techniques, to provide training on basic biology of sea turtles, evaluation of threats, beach management and hatchery management for the conservation of sea turtles, to evaluate the status and threats to sea turtles, the best approaches to reduce threats and implementation of threat reduction measures. Further, the training workshop aimed to introduce community based conservation with a view to integrating local communities in sea turtle conservation programmes and to emphasize public awareness programmes. The action based field training is involving community volunteers, STPU members, forest personnel, local conservation leaders, other personnel engaged in sea turtle protection in Odisha.
Receiving 12th Bhagwan Mahaveer Award 2008 from Hon'ble President of India.More
Our core team members and advisors .More
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