The wildlife management authorities in Krishna and Godavari estuaries have prepared the ground for safe nesting of Olive Ridley turtles (lepidochelys olivacea) that arrive on the Andhra coast for annual breeding in the winter.
The turtle eggs are being conserved in ‘in-situ’ method (in natural habitats) in the Godavari estuary and ‘ex-situ’ method (outside natural habitats) in the Krishna estuary with the involvement of fisherfolk and Yanadi tribe people.
The 25 km coastal stretch between Hope Island and Sacramento Island in the Godavari estuary on the Kakinada coast remains a safe habitat for the turtles, and their eggs are protected by the wildlife management staff and local fisherfolk.
A major part of the breeding ground falls in the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, India’s second largest mangrove ecosystem.
“A whopping 70,000 hatchlings were released into the sea during the last breeding season on the Kakinada coast. At least 15 breeding sites have been identified along the coastline between Hope Island and Sacramento Island for conservation of the turtle eggs this season,” Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife-Rajamahendravaram) C. Selvan tells The Hindu.
“The field survey has been completed, identifying the sites for deployment of local communities for conservation of the turtle eggs. The locals will constantly monitor the situation in vulnerable areas observing the arrival of turtles besides protecting the nesting sites,” says Mr. Selvan.
In Krishna estuary, the coastline between the two confluence points of the Krishna river into the sea at Hamsaladeevi and Nagayalanka Lighthouse is the prime breeding ground for the turtles. The eggs are collected from the ground and conserved in rookeries. Last winter, nearly 30,000 eggs were collected and at least 29,000 hatchlings were released into the sea.
“We continue to prefer the ex-situ method of conservation of turtle eggs as wild boars and jackals remain the prime predators in the sanctuary. However, the Yanadi tribals monitor the breeding ground round the clock till the hatchlings are released into the sea,” she explains.
The arrival of Olive Ridley turtles in the Krishna estuary is expected to be delayed this year as the normal conditions in the breeding grounds have been disturbed due to the recent flood in the Krishna river.