Turtle Facility Opens: Serangan, Bali

by Barrie on June 23, 2006

by Barrie | June 23rd, 2006  

Serangan island or Turtle Island is reached is connected to the mainland by a causeway and really only accessible at low tide. The island is also home to one of Bali's six most sacred temples - Pura Sakenan.

It was a place where once female turtles laid their eggs in the thousands. Unfortunately turtles were being taken for human consumption at a great rate and the eggs plundered by poachers. It became so bad that in 1999 a law was passed banning the capture, sale, consumption and possession. Turtle meat is a delicacy and used in ceremonial feasts and in certain places on Bali it can be bought.

I was so pleased to read an article in the Jakarta Post about the Turtle Conservation and Education Center being opened on Serangan. The whole concept of the center was conceived, built and will be managed by the people of Serangan with technical and financial assistance provided by the government of Bali and WWF Indonesia.

The article written by I Wayan Juniartha I have included for your perusal:

Serangan opens a model conservation facility

Bali Governor Dewa Made Beratha seemed to be enjoying himself. He constantly broke into a smile or a hearty laugh - a rare display from the stoic Beratha, more known for his soft voice and calm temper than displays of jocularity.

"I am happy,, quite happy. I think we are moving in the right direction. Hopefully in the near future we will be able to restore the image of this island as Turtle Island" he said standing on the beach at Serangan Island last Thursday.

Similar joy was shared by scores of high-ranking officials and NGO leaders including the executive director of WWF (the Worldwide Fund for Nature) Indonesia, Mubariq Ahmad.

The reason for their exultation lay a few meters away. Over 200 sea turtle hatchlings traversed the warm sands of Serangan Island. Soon they were embraced by the oncoming waves and the tiny creatures commenced their fateful journey into the seemingly boundless ocean.

"It is really a touching moment" head of the Bali's Agency for Environmental Impact Control (Bapedalda) Ni Wayan Sudji said.

She paused for a moment as she realized some of the hatchlings were too weak to ride the waves. Sudji moved forward picked up a stranded hatchling and warned the others to watch their steps.

"Be careful, you don't want to crush this adorable hatchlings with your boots, do you?, she said.

The others including the governor followed her lead. Braving the splashing waves and strong winds they released the hatchlings right behind the waves giving them a better starting point for their journey.

The release of the hatchlings was the highlight of the opening ceremony of the Turtle Conservation and Education Center (TCEC). The center was conceived, built and managed by the people of Serangan with technical and financial assistance provided by the government of Bali and WWF Indonesia.

"It is a fine example of how good mutually beneficial cooperation between the community, the government and NGOs can produce a significant boost for the eradication of the illegal sea turtle trade and poaching" WWF’s Mubariq Ahmad said.

In the heyday of the trade in the 1980s and 1990s over 20,000 sea turtles were brought from various areas in Indonesia to Serangan and Tanjung Benoa. The illegal trade also played a critical part in the demise of the turtle population in Serangan Island's offshore areas.

"Because of the trade various international NGOs portrayed Serangan and Bali as the turtle's slaughterers. That label tarnished the image of Bali and threatened the future of our tourism industry" Dewa Beratha said.

Standing on 29 acres of land the TCEC comprises an exhibition building, a semi-artificial nesting facility and a research facility. It is the first of its kind in the country.

"TCEC is specifically designed to serve as a tourist attraction as well as an education and research facility" TCEC coordinator I Wayan Geriya said.

turtle.jpg

A native of Serangan, Geriya was the primary force behind the establishment of TCEC and the eradication of the illegal turtle trade on the island.

"As a tourist attraction the TCEC will provide the locals with new employment opportunities and a new financial source for the village. Alternative jobs, particularly for former turtle poachers and traders, are critical in eradicating illegal sea turtle trade" he said.

The tourists will have the opportunity to learn about different species of sea turtle in the exhibition building, visit the semi-artificial nests, observe the beautiful turtles kept in ten separate ponds in the research facility or participate in the release of hatchlings.

"So far, we have released over 500 hatchlings to the ocean. We are keeping less than 50 turtles for educational and research purposes" he said.

"I want to extend my gratitude and appreciation to the people of Serangan. TCEC, I believe, will be a model facility for a community-based, environmentally-friendly tourism facility" Dewa Beratha added.

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