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A Shameless Shell Game

ProFauna Questions Baliís Commitment to Protecting Endangered Turtle Species, Focusing Criticism on Pulau Penyu at Tanjung Benoa

(3/2/2012) The government has been called upon to take strong actions against souvenir sellers in Tanjung Benoa in south Bali selling souvenirs made from turtle shells. The government has also been asked to control and moderate the increasingly popular release program for baby turtles from the beaches in front of various hotel in Bali, claiming such programs are more closely linked to commercial considerations than any genuine concern for the environment.

Quoted by Beritabali.com, Wita Wahyudi, a representative of ProFauna in Bali, labeled these practices as hurting the reputation of Bali as the nation’s leading tourism destination.

According to ProFauna, the sale of souvenirs made form turtle shell is still openly carried out in the Tanjung Benoa tourist area of Bali. A survey conducted in January of 2012 revealed widespread sale of bracelets, decorative boxes and cigarette holders on Pulau Penyu, Tanjung Benoa. Their report also stated that bracelets made form turtle shell are sold for Rp. 250,000 (US$28), decorative jewelry boxes for Rp. 1 million (US$111) and cigarette holders for Rp. 300,000 (US$33).

Pulau Penyu at Tanjung Benoa is known a center for “turtle tourism” where hundred of turtles are on display for visiting tourists. Tourists can be photographed holding turtles. The endangered species on display on Pulau Penyu include green turtles (Chelonia mydas), olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea) and hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata).

Wita reminded: “All varieties of turtle are protected under law in Indonesia. This means that the commercial sales of turtles, alive or dead, including items made from the reptile’s body parts is strictly forbidden. According to the Natural Resource Conservation and Ecosystem Law Number 5 of 1990, those trading in protected species can be punished with 5 years in prison and fined Rp. 100 million.”

Wita concluded: “It is an irony that there are hundred of turtles and souvenir sellers promoting items made from turtle shells in Tanjung Benoa. The Law protecting endangered species are only words written on paper. What’s more, the sale of souvenirs (made from turtle shell) is carried out opening in such a well-known Bali tourist destination such as Pulau Penyu.”