Infosys Foundation & WWF - India fights to sustain the rich sea life offered by mother nature
Every year, on the beautiful beaches on the east coast of India, one of the most magical natural events takes place. Hundreds of thousands of baby Olive Ridley Turtles pop out of sand and crawl towards the sea. Truly, a marvellous sight. The beaches on the coast of the Indian state of Odisha have been popular masked nesting grounds for the female turtles that come in large numbers to lay their eggs but despite the huge number of hatchlings being born only a few make their way back to the sea. Environmental hazards and attacks from the predators being some of the major reasons that pose a threat to their lives from the turtles when they hatch from the water and they move into the water the hatchlings from the beginning itself.
Mr. Michael Peters, Senior Programme Coordinator, Marine Conservation, WWF-India, Odisha state says – ‘There’s lot of hazards to turtles. They don’t feed and breed in the same place so once breeding is over here, they all go back. It is presumed that this congregation which comes to Odisha goes to the south of Sri Lanka. The migrating causes them a lot of threat. The studies have shown that out of every 1000 hatchlings which enter the sea, only one survives till adulthood; the survival percentage is very low.’
Another major reason which causes their survival rates to decline is that there are only three mass nesting sites for the Olive Ridley Turtles in the world. Every site in India is fortunate enough to have them. They are also listed in the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act classified as vulnerable according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources or IUCN. It is therefore important to save the species.
The WWF-India, thus, took upon itself the task to conserve them and undertook several efforts in that direction. They hired volunteers from the community to safeguard the nesting sites from the day of the arrival of the turtles to the day all the hatchlings have entered the sea. The volunteers walk along the coast to drive away the predators. Later they came up with a solution to drive away the predators – Fencing.
The other aspect of the project is ‘hatcheries’. The hatchery is actually enclosed with a fencing to keep the predators so that the eggs have a better chance of hatching. In their quest to conserve the nesting sites, WWF – India looked for a partner to support them in their activities and so they approached Infosys Foundation for assistance. The foundation immediately agreed to support their cause.
Under this partnership, Infosys Foundation agreed to fund the construction of continuous fencing of the mass nesting beach in Odisha.
Ms. Sudha Murthy says – ‘I have seen many turtles in many places. I have enjoyed then in Africa while standing in queues. This is something rare and that they are in our country. Many people remain unaware of their presence and many misuse their presence. They are affected by the environmental pollution. If we lose them, it will be difficult to bring them back. As the result of combined efforts by WWF – India & Infosys Foundation, the eggs are protected in the nesting areas and thousands of Olive Ridley hatchlings can now safely make their way back to join their parents in the sea.’
With this partnership, WWF – India was able to upgrade their work. They have been able to pay the volunteers. Paying the volunteers brought in more volunteers for the conservation of Olive Ridley Turtles. Together, they have been able to conserve the endangered species.
Infosys Foundation is a non-profit organisation based in Karnataka, India, established in 1996 by Infosys to support the underprivileged sections of society. The foundation supports programs in the areas of education, rural development, healthcare, arts and culture, and destitute care
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