The village of Losuia on Kiriwina Island in Papua New Guinea is being promoted as a great future tourist destination. Located in the so called Islands of Love (The Trobiand Islands), this village has in the last three months commenced the absolutely barbaric slaughter of large sea turtles and dugongs (sea cows). They are currently being killed at a rate of over 100 per week, and the random selection involves vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered species.

The beautiful creatures are chased down by outboard powered boats on the reefs, put in the boats on their backs so they can't move, and then returned to the shore at Losuia. Here they try to kill them using two techniques. One using large rocks, which are thrown at their heads. Some blows miss the frightened retracting, moving heads, and bounce off the sensitive front flippers. Others bash the underside of the neck cruelly with a wrench, with blood splattering on the boat and over other upside down turtles. They are obviously extremely distressed throughout this, frantically moving their heads to avoid the severe and poorly placed blows.

Before they are dead they start butchering them whilst they are still moving, with some frantically trying to get back into the safety of the water. Some have attached flipper tags from Australia and New Zealand and these are discarded.

Current PNG law?

The PNG government have passed legislation to say it is Illegal and a large number of locals say it is very cruel, not right and not necessary, but nothing on the ground is being done to stop it.

So why are the villagers doing it?

According to Douglas Tomuriersa, a local parliamentarian for the island who is trying to stop it, a source of protein to supplement their diet. He has spoken to the Chair Person of the International Conservation Trust while in Fiji, who said she was going to do something about it. However nothing has been heard of since and the slaughter continues. Locals estimate up to 1300 turtles and numerous dugongs have been slaughtered in the past three months, and when we were present, many asked if the ‘dim dims’ (a pigeon PNG language for whites) can help them to stop the slaughter before it is too late.

Other Options for Protein?

Douglas Tomuriersa is trying to start a method of supplying a protein source for the Islanders. He is going to try to use an industry started on another island. There, a biodiesel plant has been established, where coconut flesh is pressed to remove the oil, and the waste by-product is used and recycled into chicken flesh protein. These alternative proteins can be used to supplement the islanders diets, rather than using the turtle meat as a protein.

Mr Tomuriersa stated if more of the international community got to know about the cruelty then the slaughter could be stopped sooner.

to comment