World Turtle News, 06/01/2016
Sea Turtle Butchered in the Solomon Islands
It was midnight on May 3 that PT-160051 went missing. PT-160051 was a sea turtle that had been fitted with a special radio-tracking device to moniter her progress. This wasn’t to be the only casualty, however. Less than 24 hours later, a second turtle was lost to poachers. Poaching continues to be a major threat to hawksbill sea turtles in the Solomon Islands, although the Nature Conservancy’s Melanesia program has been working tirelessly to end the mindless slaughter. The trouble comes with the issue of it still being legal to harvest these turtles for human consumption. The Solomon Islands 1998 Fisheries Act makes it illegal to harvest a nesting sea turtle, but this does nothing to deter poachers, who will stop at nothing to obtain such money-producing animals for the illegal wildlife trade. Unfortunately, insufficient finances prevent full enforcement of these laws, although rangers still patrol the beaches as much as possible, even setting up camp to spend the night guarding the beaches. The turtle lost on the night of May 3 was due to an absence of rangers during a shift change. The poachers took full advantage of this limited window of opportunity. The Arnavons Community Marine Conservation Area and The Nature Conservancy are working to protect the Solomon Islands by placing the Arnavons under the Solomon Islands Protected Areas Act, but in the meantime a study will begin to study just how large the sea turtle trade has become. They will be training rangers as well as undercover workers to gather valuable data on the extent of the damage. These studies, as well as the efforts being made by conservationists, will provide a ray of hope for this endangered turtle.
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Did You Know…
The Burmese Mountain Tortoise (Manouria Emys Emys), has been known to consume large amounts of a species of plant known as Elephant’s Ear, Alocasia, or Colocasia in the wild. This plant is said to be highly toxic to other species but the M. emys consume it with no ill effect; in fact, on a thesis by Klaus Hoybye-Mortenson, it was concluded that they make up 70% of their wild diet.
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