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Order issued to set up turtle conservation centre

According to the order dated January 20, turtle habitats require urgent attention as turtles are an integral part of the marine ecosystem.

Order issued to set up turtle conservation centre
Representative image

CHENNAI: To boost turtle conservation efforts in the state, the environment, forest and climate change department has issued a government order to set up Turtle Conservation and Rehabilitation Centre in Guindy Park in Chennai.

According to the order dated January 20, turtle habitats require urgent attention as turtles are an integral part of the marine ecosystem. It is critical to maintain ideal conditions for the survival of turtles since turtles are facing severe threats due to increasing biotic pressure.

"There is a need for a comprehensive and integrated management plan for their conservation. An integrated and collaborative approach will have to be developed to include all stakeholders such as the fishing community, government authorities, NGOs and civil society, " the order said.

The government has allocated Rs. 6.30 Crore for setting up of the centre. It may be noted that an announcement was made in the state assembly. Olive Ridley turtles are the most common type of turtles that visit Chennai coast for nesting and breeding.

Under the new centre, a rescue and treatment centre will be set up to treat and rehabilitate injured turtles. Setting up an effective intelligence network to collect information on turtle trade to curb poaching, identifying turtle nesting areas and studying their migratory routes using flipper tagging, molecular genetics and satellite telemetry are other objectives of the centre.

The centre will also identify critical habitats such as migratory corridors, nesting beaches, inter-nesting and feeding areas apart from designating and managing protected areas. It will undertake assessment of the adverse impact of marine and coastal developmental works and other human activities that may affect marine turtle populations and their habitats. Monitoring water quality to prevent land-based and maritime pollution, including marine debris that may adversely affect marine turtles are also part of the objectives of the centre.

The Turtle Conservation and rehabilitation centre will have facilities like turtle pool, turtle shed in addition to the medical facilities for the rehabilitation of rescued turtles The centre will act as a temporary home to sick and injured turtles before they are released back to the natural habitat.

"The resource and knowledge centre and modern visitor amenities will make the centre a State-of-the-Art facility for learning and awareness on turtle conservation, " the order said.

The coastline of Tamil Nadu hosts 5 species of marine turtles - Olive Ridley, Green, Leatherback, Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles. "Tamil Nadu has been a pioneer in taking steps towards conservation of turtles. Turtle hatcheries were set up in Tamil Nadu way back in 1974," it added.

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