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Conservation project helps protect turtles.

Grazing banned A project implemented by the Ministry of Environment, in co-operation with Qatar University (QU)'s Environmental Studies Centre, has met with success in protecting sea turtles and maintaining the local ecological balance.

The project, financed by Ras Laffan Industrial City and other entities, included a study that lasted six years and was able to reveal several facts on the issue, answering a myriad of questions about the pattern of life of sea turtles.

Dr Muhsin al-Anzi, a researcher on the project, told a QU research magazine that the eggs of sea turtles have been moved away from the water to protect them from the tide. Some have also been shifted from the passages used by ships and boats and taken to safety, away from light and noise.

"The research team has numbered the turtles so that they can track them. The numbers have been fixed on their arms in order to avoid any harmful consequences. It is unlikely to find any unnumbered sea turtles in the area," he said.

Dr al-Anzi said mother turtles that lay eggs should be more than 20 years old and the estimated life of a turtle is around 80 yeas, which means that they do not produce eggs in the first quarter of their life.

The most common type of sea turtles found in Qatar is the hawksbill, which is classified among the most endangered species in the world. The green sea turtle is also found in Qatari waters.

"In some societies, turtle meat is eaten and sold in fish markets, but not in Qatar. Besides, the government has taken various protective measures to protect sea turtles. For example, turtle hunting is punishable with a prison term and fine amounting to QR10,000. Also, if a person is caught collecting turtle eggs, he will be considered violating the law and the fishing equipment used by him will be confiscated. Such procedures are very important because violations can cause severe damage to marine life," Dr al-Anzi said.

Sea turtles face various other risks in its natural habitat. While 'monster' lobsters devour their eggs and hatchlings in the nest, some birds and fish, too, eat the young ones as they head for the seawater.

HE the Minister of Environment Ahmed Amer Mohamed al-Humaidi has issued a decision banning grazing in all areas of the state for two years with effect from today.

An official source at the ministry said in a press statement that the decision comes as a result of the many positive results that had been reflected on wildlife and for more conservation of trees, wild plants and gardens.

The source called on owners of gardens to abide by the decision in order to preserve the natural environment, the animal wealth and to contribute to the efforts made by the Ministry of Environment to enrich the wildlife and gardens in Qatar.

The ministry will take all legal measures against those violating the grazing ban, the source warned.

The ministry earlier conducted two studies on the impact of the ban, which it indicated that the decision helped protect vegetation and halt the degradation of pastures.

Gulf Times Newspaper 2013

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Aug 23, 2013
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