Turtle Hatcheries in Sri Lanka: Boon or Bane?
Sea turtles in Sri Lanka are a big tourist draw – but are the hatcheries where they can be seen doing more harm than good? Research paper from 2001.
Five sea turtle species nest in Sri Lanka — the green turtle (Chelonia mydas), olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) and loggerhead (Caretta caretta). However, Sri Lanka’s share of the global sea turtle treasure is declining, as clearly indicated by recent reports and observations (Dattatri and Samarajeewa, 1982; Hewavisenthi, 1991). Exploitation of sea turtles and their eggs continues all along the coastline year-round, despite the fact that all sea turtles and their eggs are protected by law. According to the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance, 1 March 1938 (amended 20 July 1972), it is an offense “to capture, kill, injure or possess [sea turtles] or their eggs”. More effective protective measures are urgently needed to reduce the near total consumption of eggs by humans, and by feral and wild animals. The best approaches are to encourage public awareness, increase enforcement, and control or intercept poachers and predators so that the eggs can hatch in situ. Enclosed beach hatcheries should be established only when these other approaches have been tried and found to be unsuccessful.
Unfortunately, the principle sea turtle nesting beaches are on the western, southwestern, and southern coasts of the island where the human population density is very high. While the loss of eggs to feral and wild animals might be controlled by enclosing in situ nests with wire mesh, protecting eggs from humans is more difficult since there are no special reserves for sea turtles. Some protection is offered to turtles in Wilpattu and Yala national parks, which include about 30 and 40 miles of coastline in the northwest and the southeast, respectively, but appeals by concerned individuals and organisations for special Sea Turtle Reserves have been ignored. Under these circumstances, hatcheries seem the only avenue to ensure the success of sea turtles in Sri Lanka and growing interest is now focused on the conservation of sea turtles by means of hatcheries. This is partly because tourists find the hatcheries an interesting attraction. The income obtained from hatcheries has prompted several individuals to set up their own ventures as tourist attractions.
Read more at the link above.