The threat to the Olive Ridley in Chennai is prominently featured in today’s Hindu Editorial.
Endangered sea turtles such as the Olive Ridley have inspired campaigns to save the seas, sandy beaches, and dunes. To save turtles is to save an entire ecosystem. But this protected mascot species faces a rising threat from avoidable coastal development, the planting of exotic trees, and the illumination of beachfront dwellings. The building of coastal structures, including groynes and walls, blocks off access and exacerbates erosion; the planting of casuarina trees preve nts nesting; and lights along the coast confuse turtle hatchlings, fatally attracting them inland. Unless these threats are addressed quickly and scientifically, the Olive Ridley may lose its nesting habitats in the Indian subcontinent and suffer a sharp decline. For many years now, Olive Ridley deaths traceable to human interference have been high. Despite high levels of awareness, recent reports speak of a continuing tragedy. Indian Institute of Science ecologists fear that about 10,000 turtles die annually in Orissa, where they nest en masse. Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh provide low or medium density habitats but they are vital to the health of the species.
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