Written by staff reporter Thursday, 31 August 2006 00:00
The deliberate killing of 3,000 turtles a year on the island of Bali, and the horrific way in which they are slaughtered, has prompted calls for a boycott of the island until this trade has ended.The deliberate killing of 3,000 turtles a year on the island of Bali, and the horrific way in which they are slaughtered, has prompted calls for a boycott of the island until this trade has ended. Some years ago the first pictures appeared of turtles stacked in the holds of boats, their front flippers pierced and a length of rope pulled tight through the holes, tying their flippers back behind their heads. Collected from all around Indonesia, Malaysia, Borneo and North Australia, the turtles are kept in these boats for months, without food and water, until they arrive in Bali. There they are tied in cages on a remote beach, well away from the tourists, until demand dictates that the time has come to kill them. It is hard to imagine just how brutal that operation is. With the turtle still alive, a sharp knife is used to cut round the top shell where it connects to the lower part. Once cut, the upper shell is ripped away and the disembowelling of the animal begins. It can take up to half an hour before the turtle finally dies.
The wave of protest those pictures produced meant that pressure was put on to end the practice, and the numbers are way down from the 25,000 turtles a year that were being killed four years ago. However, the trade still continues. Despite all eight species of turtle being endangered, and thus protected under CITES, the number of turtles dying in this fashion is still around 3,000 a year.