Every morning in turtle nesting season 65 year old Titus of South West Sri Lanka searches his local beach and collects turtle eggs laid that night, he transfers them to a hatchery in his garden and weeks later once safely hatched releases the babies into the sea. In his garden hatchery they are protected from dogs who quite like digging them up for a tasty snack, same for the birds, monitor lizards and it would seem, in the past at least, humans. Perhaps less so these days for the humans as the turtles are now thankfully protected.
Titus has been arrested 3 times by the authorities because he doesn’t have an offical license, released without charge each time when the local community vouches for him. He animatedly explains to us in broken english how tourists think at first he is digging the eggs up to sell, but once they realise he is protecting them they want to give him money to help, which he flatly refuses. Tutus pats his chest and explains he does this every day for the love.
We met Titus at 4.30 am to walk the beach and look for signs of freshly dug nests. We saw 2 lady’s laying their eggs on our way to meet him, so excitedly took him back to the locations, the covered nests were tricky to find. Armed with his special ponity stick and our flash light we searched the beach. Titus pushes the stick into the sand to locate the eggs, sniffs the end of the stick for confirmation he’s located the egss, then carefully digs down and collects them into an old shirt. 111 eggs from one nest and 40 from another.
In the garden of the large, unused western owned beach front villa he is looking after, a sand hatchery is protected under old fishing nets. The eggs are re burried and covered with dry sand, this stops the lizzards digging them up. Each stick marks a collection of eggs, Titus knows exactly how many eggs and when they will hatch. He is proud of what he does. What a wonderful person, I hope is able to roam his beach for many years to come.