Kosgoda Sea Turtle Conservation Project

Sea turtles population is reduced over the years mainly because of human interference. They have very few natural predators such as tiger sharks and killer whales. Also turtles are attacked by mammals, birds, crabs and fish in their juvenile stages.

People sell turtle flesh, eggs and their shells as those are highly priced.The scutes were used to make combs, cigar cases, fine boxes and other ornaments known as “tortoiseshell articles” and were exported both in a raw and manufactured state and its rarity ensures high demand.

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Hawksbill Turtle shell is the sole source of commercial “tortoise-shell”.Turtles and their eggs are valuable commodities on the black market. Many view turtle eggs as a symbol of fertility and exported to other Asian countries.Hundreds of thousands of eggs are stolen every year. Nesting green turtle females (the most common turtle in Sri Lanka) are slaughtered for their meat.However, many turtles meet their end by becoming entangled accidentally in fisherman’s nets. Furthermore, turtles are vulnerable to extreme weather, habitat degradation and sea or beach pollution; much of which has been caused by human activity.

Human activity on beaches can also deter turtles from nesting and use of artificial lighting near beaches has been known to disorientate both nesting turtles and hatchlings.

Five species of marine turtles, the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), the olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and the leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) nest in Sri Lanka. According to IUCN red list of threatened species;

Green turtle – Endangered

Hawksbill turtle -Critically endangered

Olive ridley turtle-Vulnerable

Loggerhead turtle- Vulnerable

Leatherback turtle-Vulnerable

Green Turtle Hawksbill

Green turtle Hawksbill turtle

 

Olive Ridley

Olive Ridely turtle

Leather

 

Leather back turtle

Loggerhead turtle

The need for legislation, protecting sea turtles was increasingly clear. As a result, all five species of turtle (and their eggs) on land or in the sea, were completely protected by an amendment to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance in June 1972.However, even after the legislation was activated, turtle flesh, shells and eggs continued to be sold in public markets.Therefore conservation projects for the sea turtles are necessary.

Bentota Sea Turtles protection association &Conservation Project has been in exactness for just over 30 years,starting out as a project in 1980. Up till 2016 more than one million baby turtles have been released to the sea by this project. The main goal of the project is to monitor local sea turtle activity, conserve the local nesting sites and to make the public more aware of how endangered these beautiful creatures are and just how important it is to help protect them.

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One of the most important activity of the project is its hatchery. Within the sanctuary of the project, collected and rescued eggs can hatch safely away from predators before being released into the sea.In addition, a certain number from each hatching are kept back for a short period for ‘headstarting’ before release. The hatchery program is designed to maximize the number of hatchlings reaching the sea and surviving through the critical stages of their early life.The Albino turtles are extremely rare.From more than 50000 eggs laid, only 1 or2 will be born albino. Bentota sea turtle protection association has one albino turtle.

Turtle hatchling tank

Project work is mainly focused on beach conservation, night patrol, education purposes &hatchery .In addition to those activities they treat the turtles those who are injured and protect the blind turtles by giving them food& shelter. Conservation of the turtle nesting grounds is crucial to successful breeding of the species. Means of keeping the beach clean, planting shelter plants etc. Patrolling the beach not only detects poachers but you might just witness a beautiful female turtle coming up to nest. Turtles come up onto the beaches to lay their eggs at night when they are particularly vulnerable. But turtles doesn’t lay eggs in monsoon season (June to July) .Once they lay their eggs, the nests themselves are vulnerable to predators and poachers – long tracks leading to the nesting site are very obvious.

The Government doesn’t give funds therefore project requires the help of volunteers and locals to keep running.NGOs, private institutes and turtle lovers also donate money for the project. The project needs to be kept clean and tidy, visitors are shown around the site, the turtle tanks need to be well maintained and the turtles themselves need to be looked after and fed.Project staff consist 7 workers.But it’s all in a day’s work Volunteers will have the chance to be involved in Awareness of and education about these fascinating creatures and the dangers faced by them is crucial to their conservation.

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Southern Purple-faced leaf Monkey Conservation Project

The purple-faced langur is endemic to the island of
Sri Lanka . The focal subspecies—the southern purple-faced langur, (Semnopithecus vetulus vetulus) is found in the Wet Zone and classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List (2011).Following several decades of widespread deforestation in the country, viable habitat has been severely reduced for these primates.

English name: Southern Purple-faced Leaf Langur

Sinhala name: Kaluvandhura

Deforestation potentially destroys large numbers of Purple-faced Langurs at a time because they live in packs within small and concentrated areas. They inhabit both thick jungles and wooded home gardens. They live in the treetops, rarely descending to the ground. They struggle to survive on stolen garden fruits and tree leaves in surroundings homes. Many trees are removed as villagers enlarge gardens and larger cultivated areas are expanded. This leaves many open areas that have to be crossed over and then they have to travel on the ground or on telephone and electrical wires, both options are often deadly. Therefore they are

 

dogs, traffic accidents and electrocution.Eletrocution injury. Purple-faced leaf monkey Purple-faced leaf langurs damaging coconut cultivation

Purple-faced leaf monkey jumping over vehicles

Purple faced langurs damaging coconut cultivation

Electrocution injuries of purple-faced leaf monkey

Purple-faced leaf monkey crossing roads by using electrical wires

However, most Sri Lankans are often tolerant owing to religious and cultural beliefs, which respect other forms of life, leaving habitat loss as the most fundamental threat. Monkeys feed on flowers, seeds and mainly cultivated fruits. Therefore due to high economic loss they were poisoned to prevent crop raiding. This is a socio- economic impact.

The WCSG (Hiyare) launched several conservation projects on this species. Educational programs targeting schools in the close proximity to the Southern purple- faced leaf monkey ranges is being conducted highlighting its importance and endemism. Monkeys that are injured, babies that have been abundant by their parents are treated and rehabilitated before being released to their natural habitats. Once released they are monitored in the habitat for at least three months. Eight such cases that have been attended to during the year. To minimize the human monkey conflict non-commercial feeding plants were planted in buffer areas, where human monkey conflict can be occurred.

 

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