Protective fencing barrier for safety of turtle nests

Kendrapara: To prevent canine species from perpetrating nuisance, forest officials have put in a protective fencing barrier for the safety of turtles` nests along Gahirmatha nesting ground of these marine animals in Orissa.

Forest personnel are encountering a crisis of a different kind as the Gahirmatha turtles` nesting beach is face to face with `canine` terror.

Hordes of stray dogs from the nearby DRDO`s Wheeler`s Island defence installation have begun invading the beach threatening the safety of turtles? nests.

To stop them from digging up the nests and eating up the incubating eggs, the marine sanctuary authorities have erected a `protective` fencing along the beach, official sources said here.

The prohibited defence territory, home to hundreds of stray dogs, is located in close vicinity of Nasi nesting beach where about 3.62 lakh turtles turned up recently to lay eggs.

"The eggs are now under natural incubation process in the nests. The canine species from the defence site had become a constant source of worry. Safety of eggs was at stake as dogs are adept in digging up the nests and devour the eggs", said Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, Divisional Forest Officer(DFO), Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Officer.

"The forest department had requested the DRDO to stop the canine intrusion into the nesting zone. To ensure the safety of turtles` nests, we have erected fencing on southern parts of the nesting beach to keep the canine species at bay.

The protective barrier, which is serving as a safety ring for nests, would remain intact till the baby turtles break out of eggshells during mid-April," the DFO he said.

To stop the marauding dogs from feasting upon the eggs, forest department guards are maintaining round-the-clock vigil at the nesting ground. Besides, the turtle protection camp in nearby Babuballi Island is still in operational.

The vigil would continue till the emergence of baby turtles, the DFO said.

The veterinary and animal husbandry wing of the government had undertaken birth control programme of canine species inhabiting in and around the Gahirmatha and Wheelers` Island coast a couple of years back.

But the sterilisation drive failed to yield desired result as there is pronounced upswing in their population in the places which is free from human interference.

The crux of the problem is that dogs are safely ensconced in the Island which is a prohibited defence territory. Unless the defence people drive these unwanted guests away, the annual turtles? protection would always be in peril, said an official.

The officials, who had monitored the mass-nesting phenomenon this year are of the view that the number of stray dogs in Wheeler`s Island has shot up alarmingly.

In past years, the sighting of dogs was few and far.

The dogs straying in and around the defence base and sustaining on left-over food of defence personnel have seemingly grown in arithmetic proportion.