Visakha SPCA India, Inc. Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals
Emergency appeal for Sea Turtle Habitat Conservation Program 2020-2021

Dear well-wisher and supporter of VSPCA,

We wish you a safe, bright and happy holiday season! 🍁 🐢

Since 2016, beach fragmentation along the Bay of Bengal has put great pressure on sea turtle populations bringing more of them to Vizag's beaches. It is encouraging that Mother Nature is working to protect sea turtles even though the onslaught of seasonal storms. 

For 24 years, VSPCA has worked diligently protecting sea turtles, fighting all attempts that disrupt their habitat and nesting habits. In our 25th year of protection, we face a grim situation! Government moratorium on projects no longer guarantees sea turtle protection support. As a community, we cannot afford to stop sea turtle conservation! Not after its roaring success, and not after adjacent rookeries are impacted by development.

Know more about our Sea Turtle Habitat Protection program
Know more about our Sea Turtle Habitat Protection program
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Now more than ever, we seek your support to continue enabling Sea Turtle and Beach Habitat protection. This work protects all of us! We must raise $25,000 for the coming season. 

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With our fishing community partners, we are in a fight for these indicator species, against rapid urbanization, coastal development, pollution from garbage, sewage, oil, ore and light, and human-turtle conflict.

With humility and pleasure, we submit our 2020 Sea Turtle Conservation Report for your understanding about how far we've come.

Habitat Protection

While we are encouraged by increasing turtle populations in Vizag, all of Vizag's 133Km coastline needs protection. Once the habitat is taken over by development or vulnerable to fragmentation, it is gone forever! 

Since emergency nestings are becoming the norm, if your support enables raising $25,000, we promise to physically protect another 30Km of our precious coastline this season with the following action plan:

  1. Survey and stake  30Km of unplanned beach for sea turtle habitat.
  2. Perform In-situ Protection with 2 Fisher persons covering 4Km each, over 60Km of coastline.
  3. Where imperative, build and manage Ex-situ Hatcheries with the support of the fishing community.
  4. Support the government in monitoring the 5 Ex-situ hatcheries from R.K.Beach to Muthyala Palem.
  5. Being vigorous Awareness and Education Action programs on Habitat protection that cover:
    1. Obstructive beach plantations, which attract no native animals & birds to the beaches and create obstacles for sea turtle nestings.
    2. Untreated sewage water - with the support of the ore, power and oil industries in the region.
    3. Garbage pollution - with the support of Vizag's residents.
    4. Turtle Extruder Devices (TED) - enact regulation to make TED mandatory in trawling and industrial fishing.
    5. Hold Coastal Resilience Awareness and Education at Fishing mandals in Solidarity of fishing communities in support of their livelihoods and ocean biodiversity, while teaching them to fight cultural decline and their displacement!
    6. Demand that the beaches are free of raucous human activity/festivity through sea turtle season, January through May. 
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Program's mission criticality

2016 & 2017 saw a doubling in sea turtle nestings and egg counts from ~35,000 eggs to over 70,000 eggs.  Also observed in an increase in juvenile mothers laying small eggs in small clutches. We heed Charles Darwin's key message: "the real importance of a large number of eggs or seeds is to make up for much destruction at some period of life; and this period in the great majority of cases is an early one." 

In two decades, we sent approximately a million hatchlings from "emergency nestings" safely to sea with 5 hatcheries covering 60Km of coastline. This is a success to be celebrated. 

Sea Turtle Conservation is indispensable - as habitat protection challenges are heightened during COVID-19, government's moratorium on key environmental projects, and discussions of Vizag as Executive Capital of Andhra Pradesh, which encourage more development, greater migration of people into the city, and more tourism. Tragically, this does not serve to protect Vizag's precious beach habitat.

The progress made in providing alternate employment to our fishing communities during turtle season must continue. Our close bond with fishing communities is leading to conservation of the apex predator in Vizag's marine environment -- the Shark! Combining Sea Turtle Protection with Shark Conservation,  here is demonstrable community-driven marine conservation.

The world shut down to contain COVID-19; but, our work in sea turtle conservation allows beach habitats to remain protected. We happily report very little evidence of beach construction in turtle protected areas.

In this unprecedented year, as a pandemic raced around the globe and storms battered our coastline, it would have been easy to feel defeated in the face of losses. Your support along with the fisher community participation is building on strengths toward coastal resilience.

We are fighting hard against habitat disruption, the likes of which give rise to COVID-19. We issue our strongest showing in sea turtle protection because habitat protection and biodiverse ecosystems matter. With your support, we made strides with community animals, cattle, varieties of birds, reptiles, tortoises, and the sea turtle, while helping undermined communities in forests and along the coast. We increased humanitarian efforts to combat the spreading pandemic by taking care of abandoned animals everywhere and working to ensure the homeless are fed and taken care of.

While many organizations had to limit their impact, VSPCA expanded its reach by launching our new community animals protection force. In the face of hardship and great uncertainty, the residents and our supporters never gave up on protecting animals, and we didn't either! There is work to do and challenges to overcome, but because of you, we leave this complicated year behind and enter 2021 with hope and optimism. 

We are deeply grateful for your belief in VSPCA and hope that we can count on your continued support. Thank you!

Your gift by December 31, 2020 is a contribution to directly support VSPCA in our citywide Sea Turtle Habitat Conservation effort.

With gratitude and best wishes,

Priya Tallam | President | VSPCA USA

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