ComBank’s turtle protection project sees over 8,000 hatchlings released | Daily News

ComBank’s turtle protection project sees over 8,000 hatchlings released

Thousands of turtle hatchlings have been safely released to their natural habitat under an initiative supported by the Commercial Bank of Ceylon to protect these endangered mariners and promote biodiversity.

In the past eight months alone, 8,490 hatchlings from 70 protected turtle nests in Panama in the Ampara District were returned to the ocean through the Bank-funded marine turtle conservation project of Wildlife and Ocean Resource Conservation (WORC) of Sri Lanka, a project Commercial Bank has supported since 2019.

The immediate objective of the project is to protect the nests and eggs of sea turtles within the identified territory from predators such as pigs, foxes, mongoose, spotted iguana and dogs. With Commercial Bank’s participation, WORC expanded its efforts to three kilometres of previously unprotected beach last year and another three kilometres in 2021.

The initiative benefits four species of turtles including the Videlicet Green, Olive Ridley, Loggerhead, and Leatherback turtles that call this stretch of beach their home. The success of the collaborative conservation activities last year inspired the Bank and WORC to extend the term of the MoU governing the project. The protection of nests persisted despite interruptions to night patrols, owing to frequent leopard visits at night in the past few months, according to the nest protectors.

The ultimate aim of the project is to restore a degraded ecosystem and inspire a culture and community of environmental stewardship. Besides funding the project, Commercial Bank also supports WORC in its efforts to build partnerships with communities, raise education and awareness, and identify sustainable livelihoods and business opportunities associated with the project and kick-start associated activities.

Wildlife and Ocean Resource Conservation initiated the turtle conservation project in 2013 at the Panama beach under the observation and instruction of Professor K.B. Ranawana and Vimukthi Veerathunga. The territory spans the 17km coastline from the Panama Lagoon to Okada Lagoon or the Kumana National Park entrance.

The conservation initiatives of WORC in Panama are important because four of the seven species of sea turtles in the world come ashore to nest in Panama. Of these, the Leatherback has only been reported once after twenty years. WORC offers travel experiences in all of these areas and all income from ecotourism is used to fund ongoing conservation and restoration work.