The start of a free life

Freshley-hatched turtles crawling in the sand towards the sea

Freshly-hatched Olive Ridley Turtles in Velas, India. Photo: Sahyadri

At the yearly 'Turtle Festival' in India, young freshly hatched turtles make their way to the sea. The village of Velas in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra is a known nesting place of the endangered Olive Ridley turtle. Velas is famous throughout India for holding the annual Turtle Festival, which is held to draw attention to the endangered species and attracts hundreds of photographers and nature lovers from across the country. The event is organised by the village community and the local conservation organisation, Sahyadri, with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The festival is part of the BMUB's International Climate Initiative project 'Sustainable Management of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas'. Its primary aim is to preserve biodiversity and the livelihoods of the local population. This includes conveying practical and theoretical knowledge on sustainable management of the natural resources in the coastal and marine protected areas.

The Olive Ridley turtle is important to the biodiversity of the Indian coastal regions. Its eggs are still greatly sought after and the turtle itself often falls victim to hunters or large fishing trawlers that fish extensively along the coast. It is therefore a great cause for celebration for everyone dedicated to the protection of this species whenever the young turtles make their way to the sea. The conservation organisation Sahyadri has been committed to the preservation of the endangered turtle since 2002.