No religious excuse for killing Indonesian turtles

This video shows a green turtle, swimming near Tahiti.

From Associated Press:

Indonesia rejects Bali plan for turtle sacrifices

November 27, 2009 By NINIEK KARMINI, Associated Press Writer

Indonesia has rejected a push by the resort island of Bali for rare turtles to be legally slain in Hindu ceremonies, siding with conservationists of the protected reptiles against religious advocates, an official said Friday.

Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika enraged environmentalists by advocating a quota of 1,000 green turtles be killed each year, strictly for ceremonial purposes.

He said legally killed turtles should not end up in cooking pots, served to tourists in restaurants as soup or turtle skewers as they had in the past.

“It would be supervised tightly, and any violation would have to punished,” Pastika told reporters in Denpasar, Bali, on Wednesday.

Turtle meat is a traditional delicacy in Bali, the only province with a Hindu majority in Indonesia’s Muslim-dominated archipelago. But Indonesia banned the turtle trade and consumption a decade ago amid international concerns about the endangered species’ dwindling numbers and threats by animal welfare groups of a tourist boycott of Bali.

Masyud, a spokesman for the Forestry Ministry which is also responsible for animal conservation, said Friday the governor’s request for a Bali exemption from national protection laws was recently rejected on scientific advice.

“The law clearly mandates it was not possible, that the green turtles are included in the animals listed for protection,” said Masyud, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

Tens of thousands of green turtles nest on Indonesia’s coasts, but sites have dwindled because of poaching and development.

Conservationisst generally respect the Hindus’ need for turtles in rituals, but railed against the number proposed.

Wayan Geria, coordinator of the Turtle Education and Conservation Center at Bali, described the quota plan as an embarrassment to protection efforts.

Creusa Hitipeuw, coordinator of the Indonesia turtle program of the World Wildlife Fund, said introducing such a high quota could trigger large-scale illegal trade and consumption.

“We recognize the need for the use of turtles in a ceremony, but it has to be managed well,” she said. “What we are afraid of is the commercial trade. It’s a death trap for this kind of population.”

Bali Hindu Faith Council head Ngurah Sudiana called for Jakarta to approve a smaller quota.

“The central government should understand the need for green turtles as part of traditional ceremonies because it relates to our faith,” Sudiana said. “Prohibiting it will hurt Balinese people.”

Up to five turtles are needed for sacrifice at each of the 100 to 150 large ceremonies a year in Hindu temples around Bali, he said.

Turtles were traditionally decapitated. But since they became protected in 1999, ceremonies in many temples have changed with turtles being symbolically sacrificed through their release to the sea alive.

Indonesia is 90% Muslim, but Bali is the exception, which is 90% Hindu. The Hindu community of Bali has traditionally used marine turtles for religious ceremonies for decades. Consumption of these turtles summed between 10,000 and 20,000 a year: here.

Incorporating 17,000 tropical islands, Indonesia is one of the world’s richest areas of biodiversity. However, according to the Jakarta Post, over half of this biodiversity remains unrecorded with only 20 of the more than 400 regencies in the country recording species: here.

2 thoughts on “No religious excuse for killing Indonesian turtles

  1. Cape Cod Travel Examiner

    Sea turtles, not turkeys, highlight Cape Cod Thanksgiving weekend

    November 30, 10:17 AM

    Dawn M Smith

    Cold-stunned sea turtle is examined by Bob Prescott, Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary Director /DM Smith photo

    Visitors to Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday November 29, 2009 got to see cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley and green sea turtles, right in the foyer of the Nature Center.

    Cape Cod Bay’s cold-stunned sea turtles rescued by Mass Audubon

    Each fall, Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary staff and volunteers walk local beaches looking for stranded sea turtles. This year Thanksgiving weekend was busy, as air and sea temperatures dropped suddenly.

    So busy Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary had to move their cold stranded sea turtle intake process to the front of the building. There wasn’t enough room to work in the laboratory, where these exams usually take place.

    Bob Prescott, Wellfleet Bay Sanctuary Director quietly answered the public’s questions as he and Dennis Murley, Sanctuary Naturalist weighed, measured and examined the sea turtles. As he talked, another call came in.

    A sea turtle had been found by a private citizen in a part of Wellfleet Harbor not routinely patrolled by Mass Audubon. That call likely saved the cold-stunned animal’s life as staff was immediately dispatched to rescue it.

    What you should do if you find a stranded sea turtle:

    1. Move the turtle above the high tide line, DO NOT PUT IT BACK INTO THE WATER or REMOVE IT FROM THE BEACH

    2. Cover it with seaweed or eelgrass so it is no longer exposed to cold wind

    3. Mark the spot with a piece of beach debris (lobster buoy or driftwood)

    4. Call Mass Audubon’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary Sea Turtle Hot Line at 508-349-2615 ext. 104 and leave exact location as well as distinguishable landmarks; a rescue crew will be promptly dispatched to the location.


  2. Pingback: Bali fish, coral discoveries | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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