71 green turtles ( chelonia mydas ) – some weighing more than 200 kilograms and thought to be more than 70-years-old, were saved from the chopping block by Bali police in a raid conducted on Wednesday, May 19, 2010.
The cache of endangered turtles were recovered from a warehouse in Denpasar owned by Jero Mangku Buda. Buda told police he had purchased the reptiles from fishermen in north and east Bali in order to butcher them for use in the preparation of a traditional Balinese dish - lawar.
According to press reports, they took action after receiving numerous leads from members of the local community concerned over the illegal trade in a protected species carried out by Buda. Police had kept the warehouse under surveillance and launched a raid after an undercover officer, posing as customer seeking turtle meat, completed a transaction with Buda.
Buda had reportedly purchased the illegal turtles for Rp. 35 million (US$3,800) from a fisherman in Ahmed, Karangasem, who had captured the turtles in the waters surrounding Karangasem. Buda intended, in turn, to sell the turtles for an average Rp. 700,000 (US$76 ) each or for Rp. 45,000 (US$4.90) per butchered portion of turtle meat.
Buda faces possible imprisonment for 5 years and fines of up to Rp. 100 million (US$10.900).
One day after the turtle's confiscation, authorities released the giant turtles back into the sea on Kuta beach. Witnessed by the many tourists enjoying a day on the beach, the larger turtles were lifted by visitors and conservation workers from trucks and gently placed in the waiting surf. Police and conservation authorities were cheered by the applause of onlookers, pleased to see the turtles swim off into the ocean.
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