An Artist’s Struggle to Conserve the Turtles
Have you noticed that the amount & varieties of birds or animals have declined sharply over the last few decades? Cities these days hardly see birds except the omnipresent pigeons, crows & a few others. So where have the rest gone?
Many of us witness the plight of birds & animals from their natural habitat because of the human encroachment of their territories. An example from our day to day lives is the near extinction of sparrows from our cities. There are many such instances wherein we hardly realize that our ways are disrupting the existence or breeding grounds of our other living counterparts, be it birds animals or trees.
It was one such evening when artist Supraja Dharini chanced upon a dead turtle on the beaches of Neelangarai. Upon asking the locals she found that the turtle like so many others had seen this fate because of getting caught in the trawl nets of mechanized boats. The fishermen unaware that these were endangered species used to chop off flippers of turtles caught in their nets.
Moved by this apathy towards these genteel sea creatures, Dharini decided to create awareness about these Olive Ridley Turtles among the local fishermen community with an aim to conserve their natural habitat.
A special characteristic of these particular turtles is that every year, these make their way back to where they were born to lay their eggs.After laying the eggs on the beach, the turtles disappear into the sea. The baby turtles hatched from these eggs continue this incredible characteristic of its mother.
Unfortunately, in our country, due to the lack of awareness in the general public, these eggs on the beach were subject to destruction by natives, dogs & crows. To bring about a change & help conserve their exquisite creatures, Dharini set up TREE (Trust for Environment, Education, Conservation and Community development) Foundation in October 2002. She worked closely with the next generation fishermen & their kids to help them understand the importance of conservation of these turtles.
Very soon, she started organizing Turtle protection patrol walks at night to salvage these eggs. Many joined her initiative & today you can witness a motley group of people patrolling the Neelanjarai Beach at night.
Dharini also conducts Flipper fest for students & general public to create awareness of marine biodiversity conservation. Another of her initiatives Eco Revolution, helps youth come forth & donate their sweat & volunteer for biodiversity conservation.
Today the same fishermen kids who used to treat the eggs as cricket balls & smash them just for fun, are spending their nights protecting the hatchlings. The fishing community who used to chop off the turtle’s flippers now takes out the time to gently release the entangled creatures from their fishing nets.
This is surely a change that young India should be proud of. The efforts of likes of Dr Dharini must truly be applauded for taking the pains to care about nature & bring about the change for good.
For the past 15 years, TREE has been instrumental in saving nearly 45,000 hatchlings life. Along with The National coastal guard & few other Government organizations, and volunteers, they have been able to clear over 100 tonnes of debris from the coastline.
The causes can be many but what is required is the determination to make India a better place by volunteering to various activities & initiatives close to your heart.
Not all of us can be Dr Dharini but we sure can lend our hands & donate our sweat to such exemplary motivated social activists & their efforts to bring about a welcome change.
Tags: Conservation Volunteering Ideas, Marine Biodiversity Conservation, Supraja Dharini, Turtle Conservation Volunteer, Unique Volunteering Opportunity, Volunteer for Biodiversity Conservation., Volunteer for Environmental Groups
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