New Delhi: The Maharashtra Directorate of Tourism (DoT), Konkan Divisional Regional Office, Navi Mumbai, organised a webinar series on Konkan Tourism to shed light on the art, culture, history, and heritage of the Konkan region. The second webinar in this series was held on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 4.30 pm on the official Facebook page of Konkan Tourism Regional Office, Navi Mumbai.
Bhau Katdare, founder of Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra, Chiplun Sanstha, an NGO that works towards the conservation of nature and wildlife in the Konkan region was the keynote speaker. The webinar was moderated by Hanumant Hede, Deputy Director of DoT, Konkan Region, Maharashtra and was attended by 225 participants from different parts of the state.
Sharing valuable insights on turtle conservation and turtle festival at Velas, Katdare shared vital information about turtle tourism and stated that Maharashtra is the only state in India to have successfully implemented and promoted turtle tourism. Speaking of the Small Olive Ridley turtles which visit various coasts of Maharashtra every year mentioning they are 2 to 2.5 feet in size and weigh 36-49 kg. Their breeding season is from December to February and their life span is around 50 to 100 years. These turtles are migratory but during the breeding season, the female turtle comes to the shore, digs a 1-1.5 feet deep hole, and lays 100-150 eggs in it. Out of these eggs, only 1 per cent of the hatchlings survive. This means only 1 out of 100 turtles survives.
Explaining the importance of this species of turtles, Katdare said that these turtles are essential for a balanced ocean ecosystem as they keep the sea clean by consuming dead fish and sea grass. These turtles, which are very important from an environmental point of view, were in a bad condition some time ago as stealing turtle eggs, eating or selling them, were some of issues faced. Besides, construction work and global warming, causing decrease in dry sand posing a threat to the growth of turtle eggs, unclean beaches were also other threats for the turtles. However, with turtle conservation in 2003, the situation has improved.
With an aim to conserve these sea turtles, Katdare tried to convince the locals that turtle breeding can create job opportunities, while launching several new employment-generating and conservation initiatives such as turtle surveying, hatchery planning, and egg conservation. With the help of the forest department and individual sponsors the Turtle Festival was initiated, which today has become big.
All the five species of sea turtles occurring in India, including the Olive Ridley turtles, are legally protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and Appendix I of the CITES Convention which prohibits trade in turtle products.
Hanumant Hede, Directorate of Tourism Maharashtra's Deputy Director-- regional office, Konkan region, Navi Mumbai, said, "The Maharashtra tourism department is planning to organise a Velas-Anjarle Festival on the lines of the Turtle Festival so that tourism is not limited to turtles and all other resources of the villages can be used to promote sustainable tourism. Bhau Katdare has set an ideal example to the world on how villages in Konkan can be developed through tourism.''