A safe village for sea turtles | Global Ideas | DW | 01.03.2016
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A safe village for sea turtles

Sea turtles all over the tropics are a prime target for poachers for their meat, eggs and skin. One NGO in India is working with locals to protect turtles through a mix of education, ecotourism and plastic patrols

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Project aim: Protecting the olive ridley turtle, which has nesting sites along tropical coastlines across the world. The turtle is endangered due to pollution, consumption of its eggs and destruction of its breeding habitats
Project implementation: With the help of German development agency GIZ and funding from the International Climate Initiative (IKI), Indian NGO Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM) is implementing "participatory conservation of biodiversity" along the western stretch of coastline between the villages of Velas and Dabhol in India. As a part of this project SNM is strengthening turtle conservation programs, home stays for tourists as well as conservation education for 1,200 students from 11 local schools. It is also looking at solid waste management practices and beach management protocols
Biodiversity: The west coast of India is a biodiversity hotspot with numerous turtle species aside from the olive ridley, including the loggerhead and leatherback.

In India, a turtle is one of the avatars of Vishnu and as such is a mystical figure. But as in others countries, these animals are endangered as their eggs, meat and skin are valuable products either to eat, as an aphrodisiac or for the production of oil. The olive ridley sea turtle is one of the victims of this demand. Populations of the medium-sized turtle, which nests on tropical coastlines all over the tropics, have plummeted. But one Indian NGO is trying to protect the sea-turtle by working with villages along the west coast between the villages of Velas and Dabhol.

Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra (SNM) is working to conserve the turtles by providing locals with alternative incomes through ecotourism and by educating children in schools. Tourists visit the area to see the amazing sight of sea turtles emerge from the water to lay and bury their eggs. As no tourism infrastructure exists there, visitors stay with locals in their homes. Litter patrols also survey the beaches for plastic bags, which the turtles mistake for their favorite food - the jellyfish.

A film by Bettina Thoma-Schade

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