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Over 5,000 turtles destroyed annually in Sri Lanka due to human activities

COLOMBO, Friday 18 June 2010 (Bernama) -- More than 5,000 turtle are getting destroyed annually in Sri Lanka and are threatened with extinction due to callous human activities in the coastal belt, China's Xinhua news agency quoted Turtle Conservation Project Chairman Thushan Kapurusinghe as saying.

He said turtles and turtle eggs are also collected for human consumption, and most often the female turtles who come to lay eggs become victims in this way.

"Due to this, a new turtle generation is not emerging. This has led to the speedy extinction of turtles," Xinhua cited him as saying to a local daily on Friday.

Kapurusinghe added that turtle deaths are also reported by swallowing polythene floating on the sea water, after being mistakenly identified as jelly fish.

The flashes of light emanated by vehicles and hotels have turned back the female turtles who come to the beach to lay eggs, he said.

Besides human activities, Kapurusinghe said the large-scale coral destruction for lime production has deprived the sea turtles of their natural rich food areas in the sea.

"The coastal erosion has also accelerated due to sand mining in the beaches.

The loss of coastal belt has deprived the turtles of their natural breeding spots, and sometimes the turtle eggs get destroyed by washing away to the sea.

"A large number of turtles also get stuck on modern fishing nets and drown," he said.

From the seven turtle species in the world, five are found in Sri Lanka, namely The Green Turtle, Olive Ridley Turtle, Leatherback Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Loggerhead Turtle.

Among them Leatherback and Hawksbill Turtles are highly endangered species.

According to the Fauna and Flora Act of Sri Lanka, destruction, egg collection, possessing and transportation of turtles are offenses.

Places like Rekawa and Ussangoda-Godawaya are declared as Turtle Sanctuaries. A turtle conservation project is being conducted in Rekawa with the support of the community in the area.

MySinchew 2010.06.18


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