On Wednesday, October 7, 2004, twenty-three members and supporters of ProFauna, a non-governmental group dedicated to protecting Indonesia's environment, gathered on Kuta's busy beach front to demonstrate, calling for an end to Bali's illegal trade in endangered turtles.
The demonstrators staged a "shell in" in which protestors laid down shells peacefully on the beach and donned artificial shells, becoming "turtle people" to show their solidarity for the green turtles of Indonesia threatened by those who kill it for meat or ornamentation.
According to the group, Bali is a center for the illegal turtle trade with an estimated 3,000 green turtles having been smuggled into and traded from Bali between January and August of 2004. The group also claims that because of recent official steps to control the illegal turtle trade, Bali turtle traders continue to operate their businesses on a sub rosa basis.
Freedom for the Sea Turtle
The protest demonstration on Bali's busiest beach in Kuta saw twenty-three participants, all wearing imitation turtle shells, lay prone on the beach for more than one hour while they made a symbolic crawl back to freedom in the adjacent sea.
ProFauna has actively been campaigning to protect Indonesia's remaining turtle population through raising public awareness of the illegal trade in turtles and educating children to the importance of preserving turtle populations.
According to a ProFauna spokesperson, the center of the turtle trade in Bali is the port area of Tanjung Benoa where traders smuggle turtles ashore in sampans from larger ships that bring them to Bali from across the archipelago.
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