American Tortoise Rescue, a non-profit organisation committed to rescuing, rehabilitating, adopting and protecting all tortoise and turtle species, has been actively working since 1990. For more than three decades, American Tortoise Rescue has saved over 3,000 tortoises and turtles.
Every May 23rd, the organisation observes World Turtle Day to raise awareness about the species' disappearing habitats and encourage people to help them survive.
Tortoises and Turtles play an important role in the ecosystem. Sea Turtles mainly consume seagrass. By eating seagrass, turtles prevent them from overgrowing and suffocating on themselves. Hawksbill Turtles mainly feed on sponges, which is crucial for the healthy growth of coral reefs. While other species of turtles like Leatherback and Loggerheads eat jellyfish and hard-shelled creatures, keeping their population in check.
On the other hand, many species of tortoises are known to spread seeds of plants via their droppings and also play the role of fertilizer for various plants, as they churn the ground by walking through them.
Despite, the important role they play in our ecosystem, turtles and tortoises are getting extinct at an alarming rate. Out of all the known 360 species, 187 are considered to be threatened, while 127 are endangered or critically endangered. The causes of decline include illegal pet trade, overconsumption for food and medicine, loss of habitat, climate change, pollution, invasive species etc.
Hence, it is extremely important to conserve these species to save them from extinction. So, here are a few steps you can take to save the species as a common man.
- Avoid throwing waste in the ocean and reduce sea debris, these wastes can entangle or be eaten up by turtles.
- Participate in coastal and beach clean-ups to reduce plastic waste in the ocean
- Use Reusable Bags and Water Bottles
- Stop releasing balloons in the air, as they are more than likely to end up in the sea
- Keep nesting beaches dark and safe for sea turtles. Avoid using flashlights or torches as they discourage turtles from laying eggs on the beaches
- Observe Hatchlings by participating in organized sea turtle watches
- Remove objects from beaches like chairs, and umbrellas to avoid discouraging turtles from laying eggs
- Stop consumption of turtle and tortoise meats and eggs.
- Contact agencies or authorities if you chance upon a dealer
- Get involved with groups committed to saving turtles and tortoises
- Share about ways to conserve turtles and tortoises on your social media profiles.
Sea Turtles of India has compiled a list of organisations and people working to conserve the population of turtles in the South Asian hemisphere. Along with the organisations, you can also find the websites and email to reach out to them.
Child Help Foundation itself has organised numerous beach cleanups to protect and conserve marine species. Interested volunteers can join our beach cleaning programmes or start a crowdfunding campaign on our crowdfunding partner Filaantro.
Please share this blog with all your friends and family members to raise awareness. Make sure to comment down below if we have missed out on any key information.