VISAKHAPATNAM: “Conservation of Olive Ridleys is not a task of an organisation or a certain department, but the responsibility of each and every individual,” opined veteran actress and Blue Cross Society president Akkineni Amala. She was the chief guest at the three-day workshop on Conservation of Olive Ridley Turtles, conducted by the East Godavari Riverine Estuarine Ecosystem (EGREE) Foundation along with the state Forest department here Wednesday. Professors from many institutions and other animal-related departments took part and reviewed the reasons for the death of Olive Ridleys and measures for their conservation.
On the occasion, Amala expressed her anguish over the increasing death rate of Ridleys in recent times. She said many of the deaths could be prevented if mechanised boats use turtle excluder devices. The activist also sought the involvement of the Fisheries Department, NGOs and other government agencies in protecting the turtles. Moreover, she also wanted individuals to take responsibility in conserving Ridleys by not polluting water bodies and creating awareness about the gentle creatures.
Amala recalled her childhood days when she had spent time watching Olive Ridleys coming to the shore in the city when her father, a naval officer, was posted in Visakhapatnam. She also mentioned that even now she and her actor husband Nagarjuna go deep sea diving to see coral reefs and aquatic life. While stressing the need to conserve the Ridleys, Amala explained their role in nature.
Prof Bivas Pandey said that excessive fishing and boating in the habitats of the turtles was said to be the major reason for their deaths. He also mentioned that the boats should maintain a distance of 55 to 65 km from turtle habitats in order to protect them in the sea, and during breeding on the shore. He said that generally boats disturb the Ridleys during breeding activity. He also explained various types of fishing nets which harm Olive Ridleys.
Prof BC Chowdary said that in the EGREE area and Rushikuliya in Odisha were considered better places for breeding of Olive Ridleys. He said that though December was the breeding time, this year the activity was seen in March too, which he attributed to environmental changes.
UNDP head of energy and environment unit Preeti Soni discussed several measures for the protection of Olive Ridleys. She thanked Amala for taking part in the workshop. Anni Kurian from Terra Marine Research Institute, Bengaluru, UNDP programme analyst Lianchawii, regional chief conservator of Forests, Odisha, Rebacca Nayar, state project coordinator of EGREE Foundation K Thulasi Rao and several officials from the Forest department took part.
Later, Amala released the book ‘Water Birds of EGREE’ and a brochure on ‘Preservation of Turtles’.