Saswat Singhdeo
Kendrapara: More than four lakh Olive Ridley turtles have arrived for nesting in the past five days at Gahirmatha beach in Kendrapara, one of the world's largest rookeries of the endangered species, an official of the Forest Department informed today.

"Since February 27, a total of 4,41,257 turtles have arrived at the beach to lay eggs. The numbers will be going down in the next few days, but we are expecting the turnout to touch six lakh," said Bimal Prasanna Acharya, the divisional forest officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Division.

The mass nesting at the beach, which is close to the missile test range centre at Wheeler's Island, is likely to continue for another six to seven days. Last year, 6.57 lakh female turtles had turned up on the beach to dig pits and lay eggs, Acharya stated.

A 600-metre net barricade has been set up on the beach to ensure safety of the turtles, he said.

"The forest officials are keeping a close watch on the beach to prevent dogs and jackals from venturing into the nesting ground. As the site is close to the missile test range, visitors are also barred from entering the area," Acharya added.

(With PTI inputs)