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Saving Turtles in Sri Lanka!

I love it when a great idea comes together and there are only winners! Whilst staying on the south west coast of Sri Lanka I took a trip down to the non-profit conservation project at the Kosgoda turtle hatchery. The experience still puts a smile on my face as I recall the visit.

The problem in the area was that the turtles were becoming endangered. As fast as they trundled ashore and laid their 50 or so eggs in the sand, the locals would dig them up and use them as a nutritious meal to feed their families, and who could blame them? The founders of the hatchery, back in 1981 got around the problem by buying the eggs from the local Sri Lankans, who in turn used the money to buy a more varied choice of protein. So far so good; they still sourced the turtle eggs but now turned them in to the turtle hatchery in exchange for a few cents.

The hatchery carefully dated and incubated the eggs in sand mounds, which we were able to see. As the tiny turtles hatched they were put into tanks of water. The difference between newly hatched turtles and those that were a few days old was amazing. This protected start helped immensely in their survival rate. Visitors could pay a fee and choose a tiny turtle to take down the beach to the water's edge. The tiny, perfectly formed creature wriggled and flapped as I held it between my finger and thumb. Having given him a name I gently set him down at the edge of the waves and watched him launch into the comparatively enormous waves. It was a wonderfully emotion-charged moment as I wished him Godspeed.

The wonderful thing about this project was how ecological it was, making an enormous difference to the local turtle population without harming local families' nutrition. It was also perfectly self-funding as the small charge to visitors was used to buy more turtle eggs from the local collectors “ a perfect economic model!

By Gillian Birch

Gillian | Oct 20, 2009 | Category: General

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