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Bali's Role in the Illegal Turtle Trade

Local Environmental Group Says Bali Remains a Center of the Illegal Green Turtle Trade.

(1/20/2007) The Indonesia-language Tempo Interaktif website reports that Bali earned itself the unenviable distinction of being a center for the illegal trade in turtles in 2006. Based on data provided by the non-governmental group ProFauna Indonesia, some 1,000-2,000 green turtles (chelonian mydas) were smuggled into Bali in 2006.

"The proof is that in the last three years, from 2004-2006, 12 ships were seized carrying turtles to Bali," said I Wayan Wiradnyana, the Coordinator of the ProFauna Turtle Campaign.

According to Wiradnyana, in 2006 the Bali Water Police caught two turtle smuggling ships while the West Nusa Tenggara Police captured a third vessel. Each of the three ships reportedly were carrying more than 200 protected green turtles.

ProFauna believes the smuggled turtles originate from waters near Banyuwangi in East Java, Madura, Sulawesi and Flores. The group also blames the local demand in Bali for turtle meat as providing a stimulus for the black market trade.

A Changing Modus Operandi

While in the past smugglers brought live turtles to Bali, recently the traders have resorted to carrying the meat of dead turtles in an effort to thwart enforcement officers from identifying their contraband.

While the loss of rare turtles is still of genuine concern, the trade has reduced considerably from 1999 when ProFauna estimated some 27,000 turtles were slaughtered in Bali.