VILLUPURAM: It is hell in the making for every environmentalist. Hundreds of turtle carcasses lie on the shores stretching from Kottakuppam to Marakkanam in the district, with traces of digging to unearth turtle eggs seen on the 16-km coastal stretch.
Poachers have been targeting eggs laid by olive ridleys, loggerhead, leather back and green turtles, much to the dismay of environmental activists, who have voiced concern over the rampant poaching of turtle eggs.
Theses eggs are sold in black markets across the country and the demand has been soaring over the past few years as they are used to cure erectile dysfunction among men.
Traces of digging can be found on shores stretching from Theerthavari to Kaipaanikuppam, Vasavankuppam, Alankuppam Nadukuppam, Kayalmedu and Bommayarpalayam, the activists said, warning about an imminent ecological threat to the aquatic ecosystem.
Speaking to Express, activist Orissa Balu alias S Balasubramanian, who is also a researcher and Tamil writer, said that Villupuram has the least protective measures in place to tackle poachers.
“You can easily buy turtle eggs in many markets across Chennai and they charge Rs 8 per egg and most of these go from the district. It is believed that the egg is capable of curing sexual disorders in men.”
Balu also urged forest officials to take strict action against trawling by fishermen who do not use turtle excluder device (TED). “Forest officials should intensify sea patrolling to save the rare species from the edge of extinction.”
Echoing a similar view, another activist R Sarvesh Kumar, who has been spearheading the campaign to protect turtle nests on the shores of Marakkanam, said: “The threats are many. Use of mechanised trawlers by the fishermen kill pregnant turtles heading to shores for depositing eggs, while illegal shrimp farms directly release untreated wastes into the sea, in turn harming them.
Real estate developers who set up housing plots destroy sand dunes and sea bushes, leaving a great challenge to turtles to find a secure spot for laying eggs.”
A recent survey revealed that hundreds of turtles were killed by the release of industrial wastes into the sea, and thousands of nests were poached every year. It is alleged that many north Indian workers at the nearby shrimp farms as well as local fishermen rake in bucks by helping poachers to discover nests.
“Apart from intensifying patrolling on the shores, the authorities should classify turtle nesting spots as secured zones,” Kumar said.
District Forest Officer S Anandh acknowledged the challenge thrown by the poachers.