Turtle ‘sanctuaries’ misleading Bali travellers

28 June 2018

The waters of Indonesia are home to six out of seven of the world’s sea turtle species. All species of sea turtles are currently listed as endangered by the UN. There’s no doubt turtles need our help. Sadly, some of the venues observed in Indonesia are far from the 'sanctuaries' they claim to be.

World Animal Protection inspected 26 wildlife venues across Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan. One of the sea turtle venues we inspected involved some of the worst cases of animal abuse our organisation has seen. This venue housed 16 adult sea turtles in two small concrete/tile enclosures. Only one of the enclosures was filled with sea water and the other was completely dry. The turtles in the dry enclosure were left stranded and unable to move away from the noisy tourists gathering to see them. These conditions are wholly unacceptable.   

In the wild, sea turtles are typically solitary creatures, rarely interacting with each other outside of mating. In captivity, they are forced together into large social groupings. Unable to avoid each other, the turtles were observed engaging in aggressive biting behaviour and even cannibalism. 

Wildlife, not entertainers

At one of the turtle venues our team inspected, staff stated that between 200-500 tourists visited the venue each day. This represents a truly shocking frequency of handling by inexperienced tourists.

Tourists could touch, interact and take selfies with the turtles. There have been documented cases of tourists dropping turtles, damaging their protective shells and leaving them with skin lesions.

Turtles also showed signs of psychological distress while being handled by tourists. They exhibited anti-predator and escape behaviour when in contact with travellers.  

Turtles are wild animals. They are not there for our entertainment. No wild animal should live its life in a concrete pen being passed between tourists for hours on end. 

There's no excuse, it's abuse. 

Become part of the solution

Reducing tourist demand for cruel wildlife attractions is vital in ensuring that turtles remain in the wild, where they belong. That’s why we’re calling on all travellers, whether here in Australia or abroad, to make ethical travel choices.

We know that most travellers visit these venues because they love animals and they want to see them up close.  If you want to see a turtle we would encourage you to go and see one in the wild, where it belongs.

Alternatively, there are some reputable facilities associated with NGOs that are genuinely dedicated to turtle conservation. When looking at these venues, just remember that if they allow you to ride, hug, or have a selfie with the turtle, you can be sure it’s cruel. Only visit venues that put the needs of the turtles first. 

Avoid wildlife abusement parks and boycott the travel companies that promote them. Join us in adding your name to the action today. 

 

Turtles are wild animals. They are not there for our entertainment. No wild animal should live its life in a concrete pen being passed between tourists for hours on end.
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