For Olive Ridleys, it’s paradise lost

olive-ridley-turtleTens of thousands of eggs laid by Olive Ridley sea turtles this year in Gahirmatha Sanctuary in Odisha, one of the world’s largest nesting grounds, are getting destroyed due to shrinking coastal space.

Background:

6,04,046 turtles have come to lay eggs at Nasi II island of Gahirmatha from February 22. The turtles had largely given the island a miss in 2016, with only 50,000 coming to nest.

Since the small island can’t host all those that turned up this year, only 50% of eggs may survive.

About Gharimatha Marine Sanctuary:

  • Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary is a marine wildlife sanctuary located in Odisha. It extends from Dhamra River mouth in the north to Mahanadi river mouth in the south. It is very famous for its nesting beach for olive ridley sea turtles. It is the one of world’s most important nesting beach for turtles.
  • Olive Ridley sea turtle has found place in Schedule – I of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended 1991). All the species of sea turtles in the coastal water of Odisha are listed as “endangered” as per IUCN Red Data Book. The sea turtles are protected under the ‘Migratory Species Convention’ and CITES (Convention of International Trade on Wildlife Flora and Fauna). India is a signatory nation to all these conventions. The ‘Homing’ characteristics of the Ridley sea turtles make them more prone to mass casualty.

About CITES:

  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international regulatory treaty between 182 member states. It was formed in 1973 and regulates the international trade in over 35,000 wild species of plants and animals.
  • The focus of the convention is not solely on the protection of species. It also promotes controlled trade that is not detrimental to the sustainability of wild species. It has become the best-known conservation convention in the world.

How does CITES work?

  • The convention works primarily through a system of classification and licensing. Wild species are categorised in Appendices I to III. This often reflects species’ threat status on the Red List of the IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species first created in 1964.
  • Appendix I prohibits trade in species classified as highly endangered. Appendix II allows trade under very specific conditions. This requires exporting countries obtain a permit, but not the importing country. Appendix III species require only a certificate of origin to be traded.
  • National CITES management authorities may issue permits once scientific authorities show non-detriment findings. In other words, scientific evidence must demonstrate that species sustainability will not be adversely affected by trade. Where data is lacking, the precautionary principle applies.