Facts for Prelims (FFP)
Context: The government has granted approvals for an international container port on the Great Nicobar Island, which poses a threat to the survival of leatherback turtles, the largest turtles on Earth.
Threats faced by turtles: Turtles face threats such as loss of nesting sites, fishing activities, boat collisions, egg collection, plastic waste ingestion, and habitat destruction.
The approvals granted for the project have been criticized for their violation of internationally accepted principles of biodiversity offsetting. There is no provision to compensate for the damage to turtle nesting.
About the turtle
The Giant Leatherback turtle (IUCN: Vulnerable) is the largest of the seven sea turtle species. It has a leather-like shell and is found in all oceans except the Arctic and the Antarctic. In the Indian Ocean, it nests only in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is the only living species in its genus and family. The Leatherback is unique among reptiles as it can generate heat to maintain high body temperatures. It is protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act. Female Leatherbacks nest in significant numbers in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and then swim towards Australia’s western coast and the eastern coast of Africa.