Bhubaneswar, Mar.22 ( Odisha.in ) Wildlife experts and conservationists have expressed shocks and serious concern about the mass death of Oliveridley sea tirtles in Orissa coast, allegedly due to negligence of the State Government in
takingpreventive measures to check such huge casualities.
Devi river mouth in Puri district bears a ghastly look with the thousands of carcasses of Oliveridley spreading over milestogether on the coast.
According to independent estimates, over 4,000 carcasses have now been recorded in the Devi Region (Chilika to Paradip) stretch alone until February 2008.
This is well above the average mortality of 2,470 recorded in this area in the last seven seasons, pointed out Greenpeace’s Ocen Campaigner Sanjiv Gopal.According to the estimate made by Greenpeace ,taken together the mortality figures south of Chilika, Gahirmatha and north of the Dhamra river mouth, including Udabali Island, the total mortality for the entire State is likely to be in the region of 12,000 plus. Tellingly, there are still almost two months of the turtle nesting season to go.
“The Orissa Government claims that it is concerned about this endangered specie and doing all it can to protect its turtles. However, they are yet to equip the Department of Forests (Wildlife) with the required resources to do the job,” said Sanjiv Gopal, talking to Odisha.in.
However, Chief Wildlife Warden, Orissa, B.K. Patnaik claimed that around 600 Oliveridley have died this year.
He claimed that the State Government have taken all precautionary measures in association with the Coast Guards to prevent fishing by trawlers inside the prohibited areas of Orissa coast.
Opeartion Kaschayap’s Biswahit Moahnaty and international NGOs like Greenpeace have dismissed the Government’s claim that only around 600 turtles died this season in the Devi Region.
“The Forest Department needs to involve local NGOs in the mortality monitoring, only then will this annual trading of allegations with regard to the turtle death toll cease.
Along with the transfer of resources to the department, the Government should also commit to annually depreciating turtle mortality targets as an objective way of evaluating their turtle protection efforts,” said Sanjiv Gopal.
On the issue of compensation of traditional fishermen impacted by turtle conservation measures at Gahirmatha, Devi and Rushikulya, the Centre has assured the State of support for alternative livelihood income generation schemes.
However, such a scheme has yet to be prepared and forwarded from the State to the Centre, a reflection of the low priority of the Government towards its fishermen along with the turtles, the Ocen campaigner observed.
Though a number of NGOs and local committees in different coastal areas like Rushikulya river mouth were wotking overtime to ensure safe mass nesting of the Oliveridley sea turtles, the high casualty at Devi river mouth has been atributed to the indiscriminate fishing on the coast.
Talking to Odisha.in a local fisherman said that the turtles are trapped in the nets of the fishing boat and die of suffocation. Few are also facing death after being hit by the propellors of the fishing boats.
In the meanwhile, the Orissa High Court , taking cognisance of the high turtle casualties and rapping the State Government for its failure to act. The High Court has asked the State Government to file its response by March 28, 2008.