Turtle Protection in India : Action Plan, Need and Efforts - Daily Current Affair Article

References

Recently, a document on the ‘Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Guidelines and the National Sea Turtle Action Plan has been released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change in New Delhi.

Introduction

  • India has a rich marine biodiversity with a vast coastline of more than seven thousand five hundred kilometers. Divided into the Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep sea, Bay of Bengal, Andaman Sea, this vast marine resource of the Indian Ocean provides not only the necessary resources for human welfare but also provide marine habitats for colorful fish, sharks, turtles, and large mammals such as whales, dolphins, corals.
  • Human activities in recent years have threatened the survival of many marine animals of which the sea turtle is a major threatened species. For the conservation of sea creatures, the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change has issued the guidelines ‘Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Guidelines' and the National Sea Turtle Action Plan has been released.

Why there is a need for a National Sea Turtle Action Plan?

  • Documents of the ‘ Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Guidelines and the National Sea Turtle Action Plan has been released regarding the survival, damage, death, and conservation of sea turtles in the danger of marine mammals. It suggests coordination between the government, Civil society, and all concerned stakeholders to take action.
  • Due to the destruction of sea turtles and their eggs from operations for shipping, fishing, trade all over the world, they have disappeared or are in extinction from many of their natural habitats.
  • The International Nature Conservation Association (IUCN) has included this species in the list of endangered species at present. That shows that the situation of sea turtles is in danger.
  • A significant population of these turtles are found in India. India's step for shaping this action plan reflecting its commitment to their conservation.
  • The reason for the constantly decreasing number of sea turtles: -
  • Coconut trees Coccus Nucifera plantations and Casuarina trees, which are planted on seaweed, cause sea turtles to die during breeding.
  • The decline in the number of sea turtles has also been observed due to the hunting of eggs and adults of sea turtles and developmental activities in coastal areas.
  • Turtles trapped and injured in fishing nets are killed by the locals and their meat is consumed.
  • The situation of sea turtles is also threatened due to sand mining on the beaches along with illegal trading of these turtles by illegal mining groups.
  • Many times the sand is deposited on the coast for disaster control, destroying the natural habitats of the sea turtle habitats.
  • Due to the artificial lighting of nearby houses, baby sea turtles stray from their path and kill them.
  • Jackals (Kneiss aureus), hyena, and wild dogs also hunt adult turtles, eggs, and baby turtles.
  • Increase in marine and coastal tourism is hindering sea turtles in their natural areas
  • Along with this, the rise in seawater level and temperature due to global warming is destroying the natural habitat and daily routine of sea turtles.
  • Pollution (especially the increase of plastic pollution) is creating a crisis for these turtles.

About the National Sea Turtle Action Plan

  • It includes guidance to promote the inter-regional project as well as to establish coordination between Central Government, State Government, Civil Society.
  • The objective of this action plan is to increase collective participation and mark important sites for turtle conservation in the Indian subcontinent.
  • It will identify all the factors and activities that pose a threat to sea turtles.

Efforts made to Protect sea turtles in India

The provision for the responsibility of animal conservation provides by the Constitution of India. There are also laws like Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Biodiversity Act 2002, which protect biodiversity as a whole. But there are also some projects specifically for sea turtles in India.

Sea Turtle Project

  • In 1999, the sea turtle project was started with the joint efforts of UNDP (United Nations Development Program) and India's Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change at the Indian Institute of Wildlife, Dehradun.
  • This project issues guidelines for developmental activities in the area, keeping in mind the need for securing the breeding areas of turtles, protecting these areas from other types of inconveniences.
  • Besides, it issues funds for the development and monitoring of the project area.
  • In this, the area of Olive Ridley Turtles' nest is examined by satellite method.

Other efforts

  • In 1975, the scheme of conservation of sea turtles in Bhitarkanika Sanctuary was started by the Government of Odisha.
  • An association named Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra started the Tortoise Conservation Scheme in 2002, which releases some newborns of tortoises every year by organizing the Konkan Tortoise Festival annually.

Turtles in India

  • Leatherback tortoise (Dermicherlus coriacea)
  • Haskabile tortoise (Eritmocheilus imbricate)
  • Lagerhead tortoise (Caretta)
  • Green turtle (Chelonia mydas)
  • Olive Ridley tortoise (Lepidocheilus olivaceae)

The conclusion

Five species out of seven sea turtle species are found in the coastal seas of India. Olive Ridley is an abundant species among these species. A large proportion of Olive Ridley turtles are found on the east coast of India in the world. Therefore, the responsibility of their protection is also on India which has been better handled by the Government of India, State Governments, and civil society. This shows India's commitment to animal conservation.

General Study Paper 3
  • Environment and Ecology (Conservation, environmental pollution, and degradation, environmental impact assessment.)

Mains Question:-

  • Recently, the document of National Sea Turtle Action Plan for Turtle Conservation has been released by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change. Discuss the factors responsible for the decreasing number of turtles. Describe the efforts made for their protection.