Turtles are endangered. Unlimited hunting and predation have made them vulnerable to death and caused a number of species of these timid and helpless creatures to be on the verge of extinction.The turtle meat is considered as a delicacy in a number of Asian countries especially for the people living in rural areas.
Organized gangs of turtle hunters and suppliers are also very much in the trade to feed the international markets as well as the restaurants. This is increasing the number of endangered turtles every year.
Turtle eggs and hatchlings are not spared too. While the eggs are used to dish out some culinary extravaganza or to prepare some traditional medicines, hatchlings are caught ruthlessly to be sold for petting.
Due to the above reasons, several species of turtles in the coastal regions of Malaysia and Vietnam have become significantly rare.
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There are other reasons too which can worsen this condition. Destruction of the natural habitats due to wetland drainage, construction of water reservoir or dam, pollution of water and beach, disease and flood water protection mechanisms are some of them.
Trapped in crab traps or fishing nets, a number of turtles die every year. Building of houses, hotels or resorts is another menacing cause behind the turtle destruction. The muddy or sandy beaches are generally preferred by the turtles to dig in for nesting. Today, the human ‘nesting’ (read housing) on a number of beaches, prevents the turtles from multiplying themselves!
Beaches are tourist spots too. Over enthusiastic tourists take great interest to watch nesting turtles at night. But unaware of the consequence, they focus strong light sources to follow the turtles crawling towards the beach or digging sand. This actually disturbs them greatly. Too much movement of noisy people on the beach also scares the turtles to come to the beach.
There are seven marine species of turtles. Unfortunately six among them are already enlisted either as critically endangered or endangered on Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). According to the record, Green turtles in the Mediterranean and Leatherbacks in the pacific have alarmingly reduced in numbers and are critically endangered turtles.
Turtles are slow growers and reach their maturity late. Survival of hatchlings is also considerably less under natural condition. Every year a lot of eggs or hatchlings are preyed by various predators. Moreover, early deaths also reduce the number of potential adults to breed and produce juveniles.
Serious efforts are needed at the moment to conserve these innocent creatures before it is too late and endangered turtles become extinct turtles.
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