by Heather Lowe
Each year, May 23 is celebrated around the globe as World Turtle Day®. The initiative, started by the American Tortoise Rescue in 2000, is an annual observance meant to raise awareness of turtles and tortoises, their welfare and their increasingly threatened habitats.
Turtles have existed for over 220 million years, outliving their contemporaries the dinosaurs. Today, they are the most endangered group of vertebrates in the world and it has been estimated that up to one third of all turtle species could become extinct within our lifetimes without concerted conservation action. Few people recognize the important role turtles play in the environment. For example, freshwater turtles help control aquatic vegetation, serve as scavengers and help maintain rivers and lakes in a healthy condition. In India, where many waterways are heavily polluted, turtles play a key role in the health of the ecosystem.
Turtle Survival Alliance–India, in collaboration with leading clothing brand, Turtle Ltd. and other partners, celebrated World Turtle Day® throughout project sites within the Gangetic and Brahmaputra River Basins. World Turtle Day® was celebrated at seven different locations and reached more than 5,000 people! The awareness campaign used social media portals along with the Twitter hashtag #SaveLittleShelly, to spread the word of TSA-India and Turtle Ltd.’s conservation efforts.