Tens Activists Call for a Halt of Sea Turtle Exploitation in Bali

Tens activists, organized by ProFauna Indonesia held a demonstration in Jembrana, Bali, in protest of the rampant sea turtle exploitation on the island, last Sunday (1/12/2013). In the campaign supported by several other organizations such as Turtle Foundation, SOS Sea Turtles, and Born Free Foundation, ProFauna censures the raging practice of sea turtle exploitation, masquerading as conservation program. The exploitation might appear in various form, one of the most common is keeping adult sea turtles in vessels ad display them to the visitors. The visitors are allowed to take photos with the sea turtles (even they can sit on top of the sea turtles!) by paying some money to the owner of the site. This is very obnoxious, and in fact the sea turtles are brought in to Bali from other places. What become of them after being kept and exploited for so long, remains unknown.

Another form of exploitation is sea turtle headstarting (keeping for a long time before releasing them back to the sea). This is done by many people or communities, who keep hatchlings (sea turtle babies) in containers for a long time, and they will be released only when visitors come to release the sea turtles by giving some donations. Hatchlings are supposed to be released to the sea as soon as they hatch, so that they will not lost their natural survival ability. Bayu Sandi, the campaign officer of ProFauna Indonesia, claimed "Hatchlings kept for a long time are prone to get eye infection and they are likely to hurt each other. They will also get used to be fed by humans, which makes them unable to adapt and survive once they return to the sea."

Ironically, the eggs are bought by the hatcheries from the local fishermen. They are willing to buy the eggs because later they could get even more money from visitors who would gladly pay to be able to release sea turtles to the sea. By keeping sea turtles, an endangered species, they hope to get a funding from the government or sponsors. This is clearly mischievous, using conservation mask to hide their exploitative act!

Bayu added, "Sea turtle and its eggs trade is a crime. It violates law no. 5 of 1990 concerning the Conservation of Living Resources and Their Habitats. Thus, such practices must be firmly retorted." Purchasing sea turtle eggs to be hatched and then keeping the hatchlings to be released by visitors who have to pay some money has defiled the genuine conservation efforts. This also has provoked local people to hunt sea turtle eggs along the shores.

ProFauna observes that the rate of sea turtle exploitation has threatened the species. The exploitation happens in three major types: sea turtle meat trade, sea turtle eggs trade, and abusive sea turtle exploitation in tourism sites. In the past three years ProFauna noted at least 13 cases of sea turtles and eggs trades in Indonesia, most of which took place in Bali and East Borneo.

Meanwhile, ProFauna and Born Free Foundation keep on doing public engagements on the protection of sea turtles in Bali by holding campaigns, educational visits, advocacy, and community development programs. ProFauna believes that by involving local communities, the conservation efforts would be more effective. One scheme of local people involvement is by designing and establishing sea turtle watching program for tourists, which ensures the welfare of the animals and follows conservational values.

The campaign in Bali was strongly endorsed by a member of the City Council of Jembrana Regency, Mr. I Made Sweca Antara. Made, who is also a representative of PDI Perjuangan party, told Bayu Sandi, "All elements of the society must support sea turtle conservation. We highly appreciate ProFauna's efforts to protect sea turtles in Jembrana."

© 2003 - ProFauna Indonesia

ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats