The Turtle Man Of Odisha-Rabindranath Sahu
It has been about 25 years since Rabindranath Sahu first established a solid relationship with the Olive Ridley Turtles at the Rushikulya Beach in Odisha. Hailing from a village called Puranabandha, Sahu has consistently over the years overseen the annual breeding process (called Arribada) undertaken by the Ridley Turtles. However, gradually over the years this simple man has magically transformed himself from being an overseer to a conservationist. Presenting a few facts about Rabindranath Sahu to explain ‘what’ makes this ‘Turtle Man of Odisha’ so special:
a. The “Turtle Man” and his first experience with the Olive Ridley Turtles:
According to Sahu, the “Turtle Man”, it was in 1994 when he, along with a scientist visited the mouth of the Rushikulya River and witnessed the breeding of Ridley turtles. It was this chance encounter which ensured that he understood his true calling. This eventually led to Rabindranath becoming a passionate conservationist. He also explained to the online news website the quint that when once he visited the Rushikulya Beach at night along with scientist Dr Pandav, he saw the nesting of 30,000 Ridley Turtles. It was this sighting that led to Sahu feeling a connection with these turtles, which ultimately led him to become a conservationist.
When he first took baby steps as a conservationist, he encountered resistance from the villagers who were then only interested in making money by selling the turtle eggs. Furthermore, Turtle Man told ‘the quint‘ that “I was only a student when I took up the cause. But I had pledged my life to the turtles the day I saw their mass nesting ritual. From that day on, I would turn up at the beach every evening during nesting time, and stay there till late morning. Being a teenager, the villagers would not pay heed to my words, and fight with me. It took almost six years to convince the villagers to stop the practice”.
c. The “Turtle Man” and his complete dedication towards the Olive Ridley Turtles conservation:
‘Rushikulya Sea Turtle Protection Committee’ is the non-governmental organization (NGO) that has been founded byRabindranath Sahu with the sole purpose being the protection of the Olive Ridley Turtles. Apparently, he has raised funds for his organization by working in a dairy farm and some wildlife projects. He tells ‘the quint‘ that he has even taken a pledge of ‘never marrying’ so that his focus towards his passion for conversation of these sea turtles does not ever get diverted.
d. The effect of the Olive Ridley Turtles conservation project initiated by the ‘Turtle Man’:
The ‘Turtle Man’ initiated Olive sea turtle conservation project has led to gradual rise in the arrival of these turtles at the Rushikulya Beach every year. In fact, this beach situated in Ganjam district is said to witness record breaking nesting every year.
And so, with this noble conservation project initiated by Sahu having proven to be effective, here is hoping that this wonderful story of the “Turtle Man of Odisha” inspires the youth from all over the country.
Some other related links toRabindranath Sahu:
Image Credits: National Park Service