Appeal to protect olive ridley turtles on Puri beach during Ratha Yatra
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Appeal to protect olive ridley turtles on Puri beach during Ratha Yatra

Puri:A unique art installation of an olive ridley turtle on Orissa’s Puri beach attracts thousands of visitors during the world-famous Ratha Yatra pilgrimage.

The 9-metre-long, 3.6-metre-high and 6-metre-wide fibreglass installation was created by artist and creative visualiser Kirti Maharana on a pristine beach in this pilgrimage town and sheds light on the endangered olive ridley turtles, which are facing extinction due to limited breeding grounds around the world.

The aim of this installation is to raise awareness of the key conservation actions needed to protect these vulnerable creatures.

Maharana, founder of Bhubaneswar-based creative agency Imagery and the visionary artist behind the installation, says, “Through art, we can evoke emotion and inspire change. This installation is our sincere effort to draw attention to the endangered olive ridley turtles and the need to protect their nesting grounds, one of the rarest natural wonders in the world. It is a call for all to take responsibility for our environment.”

It took 13 artists and sculptors seven days to create this 17-ton fiberglass installation, which can withstand the salty beach wind.

“A few months ago, while on a vacation, I was walking along the beach when I came across a carcass of an olive ridley turtle that was being eaten by stray dogs. This made me think about what I could do to raise awareness about their conservation. What better time to launch the initiative than during the world-famous Ratha Yatra, when lakhs of devotees from across the country gather here? I hope that the word spreads through my art so that I can do my bit towards protecting this beautiful animal of Mother Nature,” added Maharana, who created a painting of Odisha that was awarded the best at the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2024.

Renowned conservationist and former Chief Conservator of Forests, Odisha, Dr. Arun Kumar Mishra, who inaugurated the art installation, said, “This art installation is a powerful testament to the urgent need to protect our natural heritage. Olive ridleys are a symbol of resilience and through this creative expression, we hope to inspire collective action to protect them.”

In 2002, the Odisha government introduced strict laws banning fishing and trade of turtles, thus protecting the natural heritage of the state. Despite protection under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, these turtles face serious threats due to high mortality due to fishing activities.
The launch was attended by Kirtinath Tripathy, Chief Marketing Officer (Brand & Communications Officer), Airtel Odisha, Biswaranjan Baral, ZEE Sarthak, Business Consultant Debasis Patnaik and Ashok Rout.

Maharana, through his organisation Imagery, is known for his vibrant contribution to art, culture and heritage across India. His influential social campaigns and unique initiatives have earned him recognition from prestigious national bodies and government entities. The Odisha Pavilion designed by Maharana at the India International Trade Fair at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi in 2023 was awarded the Best Pavilion by the Government of India.