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‘Evil humans!’

By RALPH BANWARIE Saturday, March 29 2014

click on pic to zoom in
DEAD: A leatherback turtle carcass seen washed ashore on Matura beach on Thursday. ...
DEAD: A leatherback turtle carcass seen washed ashore on Matura beach on Thursday. ...

“EVIL human beings!”

This was how an environmentalist described persons behind the slaughter of five protected and endangered leatherback turtles whose carcasses were found earlier in the week washed ashore in Matura.

At the opening on March 10 of the Turtle Season, Environment Minister Ganga Singh appealed to the nation to protect its wildlife resources especially the leatherback turtle one of the largest turtles in the world, which is recognised as an endangered and protected species.

On Thursday, the carcasses of five turtles were found washed ashore at Matura beach. Two of the turtles, a male and female, were found minus their heads and flippers.

“Absolute monsters...human animals that’s what the persons who murdered these magnificent creatures are,” cried an environmentalist who was at the beach where the carcasses were found.

Dennis Sammy of Nature Seekers, said, at the current estimate of 1,000 turtles being slaughtered every year, the leatherback will become extinct in local waters and shorelines.

Sammy said that apart from the slaughter of turtles for their meat and eggs, animals ending up as fishermen’s by-catch is a growing problem that is responsible for declining turtle populations in Trinidad and Tobago. Sammy said research has shown that more than 1,000 turtles are killed each year.

According to Sammy, a fisherman had indicated to Nature Seekers that in 2011, 97 turtles were killed in his net. He said with that high mortality rate Trinidad and Tobago will not be able to sustain a healthy, viable turtle population.

In response to this problem of sea turtle by-catch, Nature Seekers in conjunction with other stakeholders, NGOs and State agencies have developed a project with the aim of addressing this problem.

This he added, will be achieved by providing alternative form of fishing methods in the North East of Trinidad, while engaging the community and fishermen in order to promote sustainability.

Sammy said they are currently awaiting on the approval from the Environment Management Authority and IMA for the project to go forward.

What is being done to assist in the protection of the turtles since the turtle season began is patrol support from Forestry Division, Turtle Village Trust and other community groups.

Nigel Darlow, CEO of Atlantic said in his address that Atlantic stands with the Turtle Village Trust in their mutual commitment to restore and sustain the longevity of this very important marine species.

He said every year leatherback, hawksbill and green turtles return to pay Trinidad the honour of being one of a few selected nesting sites. “But with this honour also comes great responsibility — a responsibility to look after and protect these creatures so that they can continue to survive and thrive,” Darlow said.

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