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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008, 18:02 GMT
Dogs threaten Bangladesh turtles
Olive Ridley turtle
The rare Olive Ridley turtles nest ashore at this time of the year
Volunteers are searching part of the south of Bangladesh to find dogs they believe are responsible for killing endangered turtles, officials say.

Experts say eggs laid on beaches by rare Olive Ridley turtles are being eaten by the dogs near the coastal town of Cox's Bazar.

They also say that the turtles are being killed after becoming caught up in fishermen's nets.

Olive Ridleys are well known for nesting on beaches in the region.

Experts say that in Bangladesh, that makes their eggs and hatchlings vulnerable to packs of hungry stray dogs that roam many of the country's built-up areas.

Poison

Hundreds of turtles that normally live deep in the sea come ashore from September to March to lay their eggs and bury them in the sand.

Their nesting zones along the Bay of Bengal are declared protected areas in Bangladesh and India.

Olive Ridley turtle
It's a tempting meal for a hungry stray dog

Officials say they have now begun a programme to remove or exterminate about 300 of the dogs.

"We will only kill stray dogs which have been living in the wild and harming the turtles," Faruk Ahmed, an official from the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry, told the AP news agency.

He said the dogs not only destroy freshly laid eggs in the sand but also break into nearby hatcheries where the eggs are taken for protection.

Volunteers and conservationists on Wednesday began catching strays with long hooks and injecting them with poison.

The carcasses of the canines are buried in holes dug in the sand.

Conservationists say the turtles also get tangled in fine fishing nets cast near the shore.

Fishermen reportedly kill them because they do not want to damage their nets.

Olive Ridleys, which weigh 40-60kg (90-130lbs) each, are the smallest of all sea turtles, and are endangered throughout their habitat in the Indo-Pacific region.

They are particularly valued by hunters for their skin and meat.



SEE ALSO
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