An orphanage for turtles : Dahanu rehab centre to get upgrade
The forest department has plans to set up a state-of-the-art turtle rescue rehabilitation and awareness centre at Dahanu.
Senior forest officials told DNA that since there has been a rapid increase in the number of turtles getting washed ashore on the coastal stretch, there is a need to upgrade the facility. Currently, these amphibians are rehabilitated at a rescue and rehabilitation centre in Dahanu – a joint collaboration between the forest department and the NGO Wildlife Conservation and Animal Welfare Association (WCAWA).
Dr Dinesh Vinherkar, a wildlife veterinarian and turtle expert, associated with WCAWA, said, “We want to set up a centre that has larger tanks for the turtles, a modern theatre where we can conduct complex surgeries on the amphibians, and a visitor awareness centre, amongst other things.”
Dr Vinherkar added that a number of rescued turtles lose either two or three flippers or have other health complications that make it impossible to release them back to the sea. “We want a special turtle orphanage,” he added.
The current centre rescues and rehabilitates over 60 turtles every year, despite having basic facilities. Several species of turtles including the Olive Ridley, Green Sea Turtles, Hawksbills and Loggerheads, amongst others have been rescued.
“We have also proposed that a new bigger site at Dahanu be allotted for this centre by the forest department. Currently there is no facility in the State to take care of rescued or injured turtles and this could become a major centre of research on turtles attracting researchers from not only India but from across the World as well,” he said.
Speaking about the need of widespread engagement with people, Dhaval Kansara, founder of WCAWA said that and once the this centre is upgraded, the NGO would start awareness programmes for turtle conservation and even get school, college children as well as even fishermen to the centre so that they see for themselves how throwing plastic or nets in the sea leaves these turtles bruised and even handicap.
Sunil Limaye, the Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF), Thane Range, told DNA that they wanted the centre to meet international standards. It is important to save as many turtles as possible and such a centre will only facilitate it and hence we are very keen on developing it along with WCAWA,” he said.
Meanwhile, Peace, a green sea turtle that was washed ashore with thousands of sea leeches stuck on her body, was released into the high tide waters near Dahanu beach
WCAWA volunteers had rescued her near Chinchani village in January and nursed her to health. They named her Peace because she was so calm during her stay at the centre.