Turtles, Sleuths & Heartbreak

A little drama has been unfolding during this month in our little Island that has got everybody’s fins in a twist. For the longest time anyone living in the southern coastal belt has seen hundreds of sea turtles that comes ashore and frolic in the water. The females nest they eggs in the sand and after about 45 -70 days the little babies hatch and emerge out of the sand and wiggle their way back to the sea. Seeing one of these little beauties take their first footsteps and swim is truly a religious experience and they are unbelievably cute to boot.

3 baby sea turtles

In the southern tip of the island we have a turtle hatchery and a sanctuary and there are many local organizations who are working hard to conserve their habitat and ensure that we have these lovely creatures as part of our marine Eco system.

A few weeks ago there was a report that the owner of the hatchery had made a complaint to the police that one of the albino turtles had gone missing. Immediately there was an uproar as the albino turtles are are and very expensive ( a report claimed as much as 40 million rupees. I have deep issues with such a valuation in the first place. I find it abominable that a living creature can have a price tag. This is the whole reason that they are hunted and killed and anyone who is caught should be flogged or hanged from a yard arm!! But that is a discussion for a separate post) and there are rumors that they are used for various medicines. But the inspiring aspect of this story is that immediately the policy got involved with the case and the media was alerted and there was a speedy investigation. Things took a sensational twist when a popular mainstream singer was accused of stealing the turtle. The man was summoned to the police station and questioned an further investigation ensured. Press conferences were held, charges were levied and denounced and appeals were made for public sympathy and police were threatened with defamation as the scandalized public berated the man hurled insults via social media. The turtle however still remained missing.

After a few more days another report came that the missing turtle had been found in the hatchery owner’s daughter’s house. Police immediately jumped on the scene with media in tow and secured the said turtle. The hatchery owner who was immediately summoned and informed of the latest development went into to such an acute state of shock that he had to be immediately hospitalized ( Feigning illness to evade arrest has become a new tactic among culprits) and to add to this whole debacle another white turtle who had been in the hatchery died as the report revealed due to inhospitable living conditions. Public indignation rose to fever pitch! The police who smelled foul play arrested the hatchery owner for false allegations and misconduct. Custody of the poor albino turtles were taken over by the local Zoo authorities and based on a directive relocated to the Zoo.

This drama gripped the entire country and for once it was encouraging to see the attention the authorities and the media gave this issue. In a country where most causes such as animal rights are marginalized it was heartrending to see that everyone was determined to do the right thing. However this morning’s papers carried the sad news that one of the albino turtles who were relocated had died! The cause for this is probably the fact they were removed from their natural habitat as the Zoo is in Colombo and not near the sea and its also possible the poor animal was too stressed during the whole debacle of transport and succumbed in the end.

Everyone who read this news was quite shattered ( by the overwhelming number of reports and comments on social media) as in the bid to save the animal we ended up killing it. The local Zoo has been questioned by the police and they in turn have given a press statement and several media interviews and stated that there will be a postmortem to determine the exact cause of death.

Despite the almost hilarious twists of this saga you may wonder what is all this hullabaloo about a turtle when we have so much crime and rape and all kinds of evil taking place on a daily basis and why i am writing about this.

The reason is sometimes when you take the grander scheme of things humans issues are almost always rated above nature and other species and for once i was proud and happy to see the people as well as the lethargic underfunded government agencies, social groups, NGO’s and and even the constantly overwhelmed police department actually rolled up their sleeves and tackle this problem with gusto and is tenaciously fighting for justice despite the setbacks. In this new year this is truly an good sign.

But truly, i am really sad for these poor turtles and i hope this issue will raise awareness and get more and more people and conservationist groups to be more vigilant and aware of the world around us and step in and intervene and save what is left of our environment and all the wonderful creatures in it.

1-leatherback-sea-turtle-dermochelys-mike-parry

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14 thoughts on “Turtles, Sleuths & Heartbreak

  1. It’s not only matter of turtle…we ,the people are raping our nature from the advent of civilization…Initially people do this to survive, then for fun & to show pride…Now…it’s just for business & time-pass…being vegetarian or organizing awareness program can’t stop all these non sense…But I hope , there should some means by which we can resist our inner devils…It’s high time to stop torturing our mother nature…If killing the devil isn’t possible…at least we should learn to refrained the devil by ourselves…

    PS: Kudos! for ur post..Blogging is really a good mean to spread awareness among people…

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  2. This made me angry, sad and helpless . The ease with which we overlook the life of other beings is shameful. Will be back when I gather more thoughts. Till then Prayers with the turtles and hugs Chani. Thank you for sharing this with us!!

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  3. I agree with what simisanju25 says, Chani. It’s not a question of a hullabaloo over a mere sea turtle. We humans are slowly and systematically raping the Earth, in small ways and big. The incident with the sea turtle on your Island was just one version of bigger crimes being committed in every country on the planet today…whether against animals or forests or water bodies. And the fact that at least this incident united citizens in their fight for justice shows that there is still hope for us. We can, if we try and if we really want to, work toward a better ecological future for our kids.
    And yes, blogging is really a good way to spread the word….

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  4. That was much too big for a single incident. But, then I’d rather mass outrage than no outrage regarding issues like this. People need to pay more attention, we certainly need to do more and leave our kids a better and healthier future. I’m a big supporter of wildlife preservation, so this post gets a big thumbs up from me.

    P.S. Love the sudden diversity in choice of a blog post. You never fail to pleasantly surprise me.

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  5. Each and every living being on the earth is precious and an important link in the ecosystem. We are already witnessing the repercussions of ignoring the balancing of ecosystem. Liked your post.

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  6. Beautiful post, love. And so very true. Wildlife deserves a lot more respect from us then we have a tendency to give it.

    Living here, I’ve seen how much respect humans give to fellow people, expecting them to notice these gorgeous creatures. Thank you for bringing awareness about this!

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  7. You touched a nerve with this post because I have over time become increasingly more aware and uncomfortable with the whole concept of human interaction and intervention in nature and other creatures of nature.

    After a whale killed one of its trainers at San Diego Seaworld, a place we had been to often, it has now come to light that the tanks that house these whales are so minuscule compared with their natural habitat that the whales are deemed mentally disturbed by such close quarter captivity.

    As a family, we no longer go to zoos or animal parks of any kind.

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  8. We are homo sapiens sapiens suppose to have ‘intelligence’. We realize thay we are digging our own grave destroying our ecosystem but still continuing in the name f development

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  9. The post really does speak out a lot…
    I specially liked the topic on which you wrote your thoughts on…
    Every being is precious and doing its bit on his own…
    Amazing Post !

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  10. Kudos to you for bringing this awareness through your blog. I was watching a documentary yesterday with my son on Killer whales and we could not help ourselves from saying that no matter how much we enjoy watching their shows, we should not go to seaworld any more as it makes you realise that these are creatures who are meant to be in their environments just like we are, but people seldom realise it. Loved your post!

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  11. Its ironical isn’t it…zoos are meant to showcase the wealth of the animal species to people who cannot travel around. For the humans its a great idea, but what about the animals? Most of them are kept in such confinement displaying callousness more than care. Just like circuses are now banned from using animals in their acts, zoos also should take a bow out.

    Thanks to the diligent work of wild life photographers & film makers, we have access to the fantastic world of these animals in their natural habitat. For people who are able to travel around can experience the real thing in reserves.

    However, there is a greater awareness of people to issues of the environment & have found voices in the social media. It may not be effective all the time, but there is hope that some inroads are being made into saving them from the impact of rapid development.

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  12. Chani … just came across this post of yours … I don’t know how I missed it earlier …

    It was really sad to read about the manhandling of the sea turtles …
    but this is happening all over the world with our natural habitat where all species of our wildlife are in danger by the most dangerous two legged animal on this planet … a lot of people are trying to do as much as they can specially by social media but obviously it is not enough … as these crimes continue in spite of the severest punishments being imposed …

    We are single handedly ruining our own environment … our home …

    Inspite of being banned … bali is carried out slyly of unspecting animals because of religious reasons …

    Dead bodies are still immersed in the river Ganges and Yamuna in the dark of the night … inspite of being banned … because religion doesn’t permit cremating or burial of certain sects specially the Pandits in certain temples …

    You must have heard about the terrible landslide in Pune where a whole hill just collapsed wiping out a whole village … many human beings are feared dead and God knows how many animals lost their lives … deforestation seems to be the cause … when will human beings ever realise that they are their own worst enemies and are themselves wiping out their species and the habitat that God has gifted them … 😦 sad …

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