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Man’s quest to acquire sexual prowess pushes Olive Ridley turtles to the brink

Olive Ridleys along Punta Chame face threat from humans who think turtle eggs are an aphrodisiac

Olive Ridley turtles have been on their way out. With numbers steadily declining, the animals have found themselves listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The extinction threat comes out of a weird reason.

The Olive Ridley sea turtles that inhabit Punta Chame, a peninsula of Panama that peeks into the Pacific Ocean, have been suffering human attacks owing to the superstition that their eggs are an aphrodisiac. Similar to how the rhinos and the pangolins have been suffering, man’s quest to acquire sexual prowess has pushed these sea turtles to the brink.

It has been found that the eggs of the Olive Ridley turtles are illegally harvested from the beach by poachers, who then sell them to people looking for sexual powers. The purported aphrodisiac qualities have made them much sought after that they are sold for amounts between 75 cents to $1 each in Punta Chame.

Turtle eggs falsely believed as enhancing sexual abilities

However, it is a fact that sea turtle eggs do not have any such qualities that enhance sexual prowess in humans. A report quoting Jorge Padilla, a conservationist with the NGO Fundacion Tortuguias, said that he believes that eggs don’t have such powers. The NGO Fundacion Tortuguias is engaged in collecting and hatching the eggs

Going by the scientific nomenclature of Lepidochelys olivacea, the Olive Ridleys have been reduced to less numbers due to the false belief that they can power up a man’s sexual abilities, which in fact is a weird belief.

The turtles along the beaches of Punta Chame have been feeling the heat, with numbers dwindling at fast pace. All they now have to rely on is people like Padilla who are teaming up with village volunteers to collect freshly laid eggs and bury them in sand at the nursery. These eggs, which number hundreds, hatch every year between July and February. As soon as the y hatch the volunteers bring them to the beach and release them near the water’s edge so that the baby turtles can swim away into the ocean.

Volunteers do their bit to save turtles

These turtles tend to return to the beaches where they are released as they have this process termed ‘imprinting’ so as to make sure they find the same beach to return after around 20 years. They return and lay eggs on the same beach.

The volunteers have been doing a great job by patrolling the beaches to help save the turtles from stray dogs and humans. In the meantime, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which has many countries as participants, are looking towards means to combat egg theft and trafficking.

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Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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