Con Dao sea turtles give birth with forest rangers’ help

VietNamNet Bridge - The forest rangers on Con Dao Island not only act as a protector for Con Dao sea turtles, but also serve as midwives.

Located just 3.5 miles from Con Dao Town, Bay Canh Island is the area where sea turtles like to to lay eggs. 

Forest rangers on the island said that since the 1990s, they have conducted thousands of midwifery cases for sea turtles, helping millions of turtles come to the world. 

The latest ‘mission’ was implemented at night in mid-August.

A sea turtle was seen crawling to the sandbank to look for a place for it to lay eggs. Just five minutes later, a nest with the depth of 50 cm and width of 20 cm was ready.

Visitors then could see the animal which is listed in the Red Book lay eggs. After the turtle laid 20 eggs, forest rangers came to the nest to serve as midwives. 

Visitors were told not to have any light in front of the mother turtle, because she would stop laying eggs and move the nest.

“If the mother turtle leaves, it will only come back to lay eggs after several days,” a forest ranger explained.

After laying eggs, the mother turtle has to rest for one hour and then return to the sea. And it was time for forest rangers to take notes about the delivery case. 

At that time, seven mother turtles went to the sandbank that night, but only five laid eggs, about 500 eggs.

A forest ranger said that protecting sea turtles was an important task for forest rangers on Con Dao. The months from May to October every year are the high season for them to strengthen the protection. It is time for illegal hunters to steal turtle eggs and catch mother turtles. 

Nguyen Van Long, a forest ranger on Bay Canh Island, said the forest rangers some days ago caught people who slaughtered turtles for sale and handed them over to the police.

Though people have warned that sea turtles are precious animals listed in the Red Book, they still try to hunt turtles because of the promised attractive profits.

“We usually have sleepless nights in the high season,” he said.

In the past, the work of midwives was simple. Forest rangers just needed to mark the nests on the sand, watch the natural hatchery and count the number of baby turtles returning to the sea.

However, as the successful natural hatchery proportion was low because of the illegal hunting and changeable weather, the forest rangers decided to create artificial nests to better protect turtle eggs. 

Thien Nhien
Vietnam, Con Dao sea turtles, forest rangers