Green Life Rural Association (GLRA)
Members of the Green Life Rural Association were actively involved in the sea turtle research project of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) from 1993-1999 carried out on the Orissa coast. Many of the members worked as volunteers or as field assistants with the WII research team. The members have also assisted the Operation Kachhapa program of the Wildlife Society of Orissa between 2000 and 2004. GLRA was formed in 1993, by a group of thirteen committed village youth who were then working on the Wildlife Institute of Indiaâ€™s sea turtle project. Members of GLRA also worked in Operation Kachhapa when it was launched, at the time as a joint operation with the Forest Department and Wildlife Protection Society of India.
GLRAâ€™s activities are focused in the Devi river mouth region. The mass nesting of the olive ridleys was first discovered in the Devi region in 1981. However, little attention has been paid to this area, with the mass nesting beaches of Gahirmatha to the north and Rushikulya to the south hogging most of the limelight. Devi suffered from the lack of attention paid to it. By 1993, much of the nesting space at this rookery had been lost to Casuarina plantations, ironically planted by the forest department, which is supposed to protect the interest of wildlife species such as the sea turtle.
Although significant turtle congregations have been observed in the area, mass nesting at this beach is infrequent, possibly a result of the heavy illegal trawling that takes place in the area. However, the area remains significant on account of the sporadic nesting that takes place every year, though a majority of such nests are subject to predation. With the right amount of protection, it is hoped that the turtles will once again feel safe enough to return to Devi en masse.
A key aspect of GLRAâ€™s turtle conservation work is the awareness programme it has launched in the coastal village of Puri District, using a group of seven musicians and signers. Through creatively designed songs and dances held before village audiences, the group throws light on the basics of turtle biology, the importance of the species in the ecosystem and the recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court, which has recognised the important role to be played by the traditional fishing communities of Orissa in turtle protection. This is perhaps one of the few examples in the country where small village level groups are explaining the orders of the highest court in the land to those most affected, at the grass roots level. In the near future, the group plans to include the villages of Jagatsinghpur District in this programme as well.
In the year 2007-08 GLRA started a programme to control the stray dog population in the Devi mass nesting area with the help of Blue Cross of Hyderabad and Government of Orissa, Department of Animal Husbandry. Also, as part of our green campaign in the same year GLRA distributed 500 fruit tree saplings (mango, coconut and lemon) among 1,000 fisherman families in Devi coast for alternative source of livelihood of the fishing community.
In the year 2009-10 GLRA built an artificial reef with the help of the local fisher community and funding support from the Orissa Marine Resources Conservation Consortium (OMRCC) to create fish reserves in some parts of the mass congregation area in Devi. This artificial reef (made of concrete blocks) will stop net fishing in the area and the artificial reef may help fish and marine life to make this their new home. Fisherman can catch fish in this area by hook line and this is also now opens up a potential avenue for ecotourism through angling tourism.
GLRA has also started a new programme with the help of FSL-India to bring some volunteers to work in Devi on the Turtle Friends project.