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Turtle Sanctuary and Hatchery

Details about how to volunteer on this project can be found in the volunteering section.

Overview of the role of the hatchery.

This turtle hatchery and sanctuary was established 12 years ago by local fishermen, for turtles injured in fishing nets, as well as a place to ensure that the eggs of the 5 species of sea turtle that nest on Colombo's beaches are safe from human collection and animal predation. Although it's illegal, turtle eggs are dug up by humans and sold for food for as little as £0.05 (5 pence)/egg.

This is the only hatchery looking after the turtles on the Colombo coastline, which is one of the fastest developing cities in the world, and of course development means pressure on the turtles' nesting grounds, the city's beaches.

Furthermore, in June 2015, the golden sands stretching for 100 yards in front of the hatchery were washed away in the monsoon storms, taking with them the mangrove trees and coconut trees that had protected the coast, the hatchery, and the vital nesting grounds.

                       The beach prior to the 2015 storms

              The beach following the 2015 storms

              The beach following the 2015 storms

Who is supporting the hatchery?

At time of writing, Give A Fig Volunteering have supported the hatchery through the construction of a tank that replaced tanks destroyed in the storms of 2015. We also pay the custodian for each volunteer who has volunteered there. We also know of some supporters who have made one off contributions, but nothing that sustains the hatchery month by month.  

          Flipperless turtles at the sanctuary; the result of entanglement in nets

          Flipperless turtles at the sanctuary; the result of entanglement in nets

 

Why are Give A Fig Volunteering supporting the hatchery?

There are a  number of reasons why the hatchery needs support, all of which involve a number of Catch 22s

  • The hatchery does not have a viable income. Unlike other hatcheries in the south, there is no main tourist road going past, which means there is no passing tourist trade.
  • Volunteer organisations have used the hatchery in the past, but have not contributed financially to the hatchery.
  • The hatchery is poorly advertised, as the custodian has no source of income other than (poor) ticket sales, and therefore does not have the income to advertise. Nor can he afford to ask for advice on advertising - which we are able to provide. One old sign close to a major hotel is in Sinhalese, which tourists can't read.
  • Few locals know about the hatchery, despite the vital work it is doing.
  • Due to the monsoon season, the fisherman only fish 6 months of the year, and they are unable to support the turtle hatchery themselves
  • In the fishing off season, when there are less tourists, the price of fish rises, making it difficult to pay for food for the turtles that remain at the hatchery for care.

Plans for supporting the hatchery to grow its income

  1. Through Give A Fig volunteers volunteering at the hatchery, we will support the hatchery by paying a direct donation to the hatchery for each volunteer
  2. Through your donations, we will design leaflets for distribution and display at the hotels around Colombo and the island, offering money off the ticket on production of the leaflet. These we shall have translated into a number of languages. As turtel hatcheries are very popular with tourists, visitor numbers will increase, developing the self -sufficiency of the hatchery.  We shall also suggest other things to do as part of a Colombo itinerary, potentially selling advertising space on the leaflets.
    • Approx cost per 4000 A4 leaflets, for design, print, and distribution: £350
  3. We will create road and beach signs for prominent display. The cost includes the printing and design, the frames for the advertising boards, as well as taxes to two authorities for the display of the road signs. 
    • Approx Cost/road sign: £550
  4. Through sponsorship of £300/month, we can guarantee the custodian an income, which guarantees the long term viability of the hatchery and turtle protection, whilst the marketing strategies are being put in place.
  5. Through sponsorship of £75/month, we can pay for food for the turtles rehabilitating at the sanctuary, until their release..
  6. Through sponsorship of £50/month we can pay vets bills as they arise.
  7. We have the opportunity, with Milan, to renovate or build a house for use as a hostel, which will increase the income of the custodian, increasing the hatchery's chances of long term survival. Please us for further details.
  8. With increased numbers of visitors, there will be opportunity to work with the tourists, offering snorkeling, beach BBQs, and creative artwork with tourists' children.  
 

Meeting Costs / becoming self-sufficient

Wages 1 f/t staff member:  £250 pcm (in. pension and Income Tax)

Milan's dedication to the turtles that nest on the western coast has saved literally tens of thousands of eggs from predation over 12 years, and seen the release of tens of thousands of hatchlings. His ability to continue the work upon the beaches that turtles have nested on for millennia needs to continue. Support Milan so that he can develop the hatchery and sanctuary into something that provides  him an income so that he can continue to save the turtles for us all.

Milan's dedication to the turtles that nest on the western coast has saved literally tens of thousands of eggs from predation over 12 years, and seen the release of tens of thousands of hatchlings. His ability to continue the work upon the beaches that turtles have nested on for millennia needs to continue. Support Milan so that he can develop the hatchery and sanctuary into something that provides  him an income so that he can continue to save the turtles for us all.

In order to support themselves and their family, Milan and his wife run a cafe at the turtle sanctuary. Help us to help Milan continue his vital role as custodian and guardian of the turtles' future.

In order to support themselves and their family, Milan and his wife run a cafe at the turtle sanctuary. Help us to help Milan continue his vital role as custodian and guardian of the turtles' future.

The vital work of the sanctuary goes on year round, and depends for its income on receipts from tourists, which like fishing become limited during the west coast’s 6 monsoon months. Your donations support the custodian and only full time worker..

 

Veterinary Bills: £50 pcm

          Limbless turtles. Could they be released into the sea with prosthetic limbs .

          Limbless turtles. Could they be released into the sea with prosthetic limbs .

We hope to work with universities or sea life centres to support the study of the turtles, and their possible rehabilitation back to the sea. Tragically, some turtles have lost 4 limbs, as they were not rescued before the nets did irreparable harm. Support Milan's tireless work through paying vet bills, or supporting studies for the turtles return to the sea.

We hope to work with universities or sea life centres to support the study of the turtles, and their possible rehabilitation back to the sea. Tragically, some turtles have lost 4 limbs, as they were not rescued before the nets did irreparable harm. Support Milan's tireless work through paying vet bills, or supporting studies for the turtles return to the sea.

The sanctuary looks after many injured turtles that fisherman have found caught in drifting nets. Unfortunately, too many lose their limbs – some all of their limbs – and the vets are called to treat the turtles and prescribe medication.

 

Turtle Food: £1o / day

Each adult turtle without limbs are year round residents, and eat up to 1kg of fish or sea grass.

Support Milan's work through paying for food for the turtles.

 

Site Maintenance: £100 pcm

These are the older tanks, which survived the 2015 storm, and Give A Fig replaced one that was washed away (off camera) at a cost of £350.

These are the older tanks, which survived the 2015 storm, and Give A Fig replaced one that was washed away (off camera) at a cost of £350.

These new tanks have been provided by a donor. Give A Fig Volunteering are seeking your help to ensure the long term viability of Milan's vital work on this coast.

These new tanks have been provided by a donor. Give A Fig Volunteering are seeking your help to ensure the long term viability of Milan's vital work on this coast.

On-going maintenance, repair (turtle tanks, water filtration, roofing etc.), and renewal.

 

Marketing:

Year 1:   £2,500 (3 road, and beach signs; leaflets)

Year 2+: £750 (literature,  adverts tour magazines, road sign taxes)

 

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Cost: £50 PCM

Marketing and advertising is essential for the sanctuary’s self-sufficiency.

 
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