Wed, 19 Mar 2003

Illegal turtle trade flourishing

A giant, blow-up loggerhead turtle is placed on the beach outside the Hard Rock Cafe in the town of Kuta in Bali, as part of a campaign by environmental watchdog ProFauna Indonesia to fight the illegal turtle trade across the country. ProFauna issued a report on Friday detailing the illegal trade, saying it was booming in 10 provinces in Indonesia.

Based on a survey conducted between September 2001 and July 2002, the report said that consumption of turtle flesh remained highest in Bali, while Yogyakarta ranked first in the trade of turtle shells as souvenirs for tourists.

Other provinces where the trade is rampant are Jakarta, East Java, the Riau Islands, Madura, West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Flores and Sulawesi.

ProFauna chairman Rosek Nursahid said that even in Jakarta, turtle shells were openly sold in major department stores.

Indonesia considers all types of turtles to be endangered. They are protected under Law No. 5/1990 on the conservation of wildlife and ecosystems.

Rosek said it was difficult to protect the animals as the turtle trade was lucrative.

A fisherman could earn some Rp 700,000 (about US$78) for each kilogram of turtle shell, he said. Every six month, they could sell turtle shells weighing at least 100 kilograms.

"This means an income of Rp 70 million in six months, or Rp 7 million every month," said Rosek. --JP