Dhenkanal: Several major rivers and creeks in their basins in the district have turned out to be safe haven for rare freshwater turtles, which are essential part of our ecosystem.
While conservation of Olive Ridley turtles has been taken up in coastal pockets on a large scale, protection of freshwater has hardly been given due consideration.
Though non-government organizations have been constantly making efforts for conservation of these freshwater turtles, now the Forest department has drawn up a project for their conservation, a report said.
According to the report, the department has planned to spend Rs 30 lakh for the conservation project.
As prelude to this conservation effort, the department has identified nesting places of the freshwater tortoise in various river basin areas while fishing restrictions will be imposed in those areas.
Besides, a decision has been taken to rope in fishermen for safety and conservation of the freshwater turtles.
Brahmani, the second largest river of the state, flows through Dhenkanal. Rivers basin areas like Banasingh, Shankarpur, Radhadeipur and Rankia have emerged as safe havens for freshwater tortoises over years.
Between November and February, these freshwater tortoises throng these above-said places for egg-laying en masse. The Forest department has observed that egg-laying activities of these turtles have been going on for the last few years.
However, foxes, jackals and other wild animals usually feed on the eggs of the turtles, resulting in a hurdle in the proliferation of the fresh water turtle species.
In view of this problem, the Forest department has seriously thought of ensuring protection of the fresh water tortoises. People living in these riparian pockets will be made aware of the turtle conservation. At the right time, hatcheries will be set up for safety of turtle eggs.
According to the department, if the river water rises to the nesting places, the eggs will be shifted to the hatcheries. When the river water subsides, the eggs will again be put at their respective places.
The department has made provision of financial assistance for the people who will assist in turtle conservation activities. Four days ago, DFO Dr Prakash Chand Gogineni had visited the nesting places of the fresh water tortoises.
Meanwhile, the department has got into the act of giving the finishing touches to the tortoise conservation project.