Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Giant Leatherback Turtle


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Giant Leatherback Turtle

Mains level: Not Much

Proposals for tourism and port development in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands has left conservationists worried over the fate of some of the most important nesting populations of the Giant Leatherback turtle.

What is the news?

  • There is concern that at least three key nesting beaches — two on Little Andaman Island and one on Great Nicobar Island — are under threat due to mega “development” plans announced in recent months.
  • These include NITI Aayog’s ambitious tourism vision for Little Andaman and the proposal for a mega-shipment port at Galathea Bay on Great Nicobar Island.

Giant Leatherback Turtle

IUCN status: Vulnerable

  • The largest of the seven species of sea turtles on the planet and also the most long-ranging, Leatherbacks are found in all oceans except the Arctic and the Antarctic.
  • Within the Indian Ocean, they nest only in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the A&N Islands.
  • They are also listed in Schedule I of India’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, according it the highest legal protection.
  • The population in A&N Islands is among the most important colonies of the Leatherback globally.

About Galathea Bay

  • The Galathea Bay is adjacent to Galathea National Park in Great Nicobar Island.
  • It was earlier proposed as a wildlife sanctuary in 1997 for the protection of turtles and was also the site of a long-term monitoring programme.
  • The monitoring was stopped after the tsunami devastation of 2004, but it provided the first systematic evidence of numbers and importance of these beaches.

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