Environmental activists from ProFauna Indonesia rallied recently to call for the protection of endangered turtles being exploited in the illegal wildlife trade over the last few years. The activists unfurled a 100-meter-long banner at the worldrenowned Kuta Beach, which read, “One from 1,000 will survive.” “We invite the people of Kuta and tourists alike to care about this endangered species,” said ProFauna chairman Rosek Nursahid.
“Turtles, young ones in particular, are very vulnerable. Their survival rates have been so low because of the destruction of their habitats.” A recent study showed only one out of 1,000 turtles survives to adulthood. “Turtles face threats from Nature and more importantly from irresponsible humans who sell their shells and meat for various dishes,” Nursahid said. Trade in turtles turtles is a criminal offense in Indonesia, punishable by up to five years in jail and Rp 100 million in fines, under a 1990 law on the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems.
The campaign, Nursahid said, was aimed mainly at increasing awareness among local Balinese and visitors to the island, to help end the illegal turtle trade. “Bali has long been a potential market destination for the illegal turtle trade,” he said. Turtles are shipped to Bali from elsewhere, such as Sulawesi, West Nusa Tenggara and East Java. The illegal turtle trade in Bali has been curtailed in recent years, but is still considerable, data from ProFauna shows. In 2008, 2,000 turtles were sold in the island’s black market. Prior to 1999, anywhere from 27,000 to 30,000 turtles were sold here annually.
“The police have arrested several traders trying to smuggle turtles into Bali,” Nursahid said. He urged active participation from the local communities and relevant agencies to end the turtle trade. “Anyone found smuggling or selling turtles must be reported to the authorities,” he added. Rock singer Melanie Subono was at the event to raise its profile. “I don’t know much about turtles, but I love them, and so I chose to be actively involved in the program,” she said, adding she would join ProFauna on its campaign trail to Malang in East Java and Banjarmasin in South Kalimantan.
Jeoff Black, a visitor from Australia, praised the campaign. “I think it’s a good thing; one step to make our environment better,” he said. Black also frowned on the consumption of turtle meat. “I’ve been visiting Bali since 1978, and I never ate turtle meat,” he said. “I don’t agree with that.”
Source: The Jakarta Post, July 17, 2009
By JP/Ni Komang Erviani