A wall of nets to protect mass nesting of Olive Ridleys near Rushikulya rookery
With mass nesting of Olive Ridleys expected to start from the second week of February, the forest department has initiated measures to check entry of unwanted predators and humans to the coast line near Rushikulya rookery in Ganjam district on Odisha coast, where these endangered turtles come for mass nesting.
A wall of nets is being put up for a stretch of around 5 km at the Rushikulya rookery coast in Ganjam district to check entry of predators like dogs, foxes, hyenas to the area where the Olive Ridleys lay their eggs. These predators eat up Olive Ridley eggs digging up the nests in sand.
About a 3-km-long wall of nets is being put up by the forest department from Gokharkuda to Podampeta. Another 2 km stretch of net wall is being erected by the WWF beyond Podampeta.
This year the wall of nets is being put up slightly early before the start of mass nesting so that mother Olive Ridleys that come up in small numbers to nest ahead of mass nesting lay their eggs only in area protected from predators.
Apart from it, this time round the forest department has also become strict about entry of visitors to the coastal region near Rushikulya rookery where the Olive Ridleys come for mass nesting. Outsiders will not be allowed to touch Olive Ridleys coming to the coast to nest or to hold eggs laid by the mother turtles.
“No visitor from outside would be allowed to reach the nesting area of Olive Ridleys without permission of the forest department and there would be a stipulated time and region for visit of tourists to the nesting site. Visitors would be surely allowed during night to witness mass nesting, which occurs during night,” said Berhampur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Ashis Behera.
The forest department has decided to allow entry of visitors to the nesting beach only at Podampeta. Forest officials have decided to check entry of visitors to other regions of over 5-km-long nesting beach with support of local villagers. Local villagers would be allowed to get some income from collection of parking fee from visitors’ vehicles.
The forest department has also decided to put curb on use of torch lights by localites as well as visitors at the nesting beach of Olive Ridleys at night during mass nesting time, said the DFO. Olive Ridleys get distracted by light sources.
Mating of Olive Ridleys in sea near the Rushikulya rookery has almost ended and male turtle shave started to return back leaving behind the female turtles for nesting at this coast. Special squad comprising of officials of forest and marine fishery departments are patrolling the sea near this coast with two speed boats of forest department, one trawler of fisheries department and another trawler provided by Gopalpur port (Berhampur) to protect Olive Ridleys in sea.
Nine on-shore camps have been established by the forest department on the coast where Olive Ridleys usually come to nest near the Rushikulya rookery. Beach cleaning process has also started.
-The Hindu, BERHAMPUR, JANUARY 31, 2017