These are the amazing scenes as marine police officers in Bali release 31 rare sea turtles into the ocean who had been captured by an illegal gang of smugglers.
The languid reptiles faced an uncertain future after they were caught by an international gang of smugglers and may have been on their way to a restaurant or to be used in traditional Chinese medicine.
However, authorities raided the gang’s hide out and rescued the turtles before they could be smuggled out of the country.
Police, aided by wildlife officials, carried the heavy turtles across the sand at Kuta beach on the island of Bali earlier today.
The turtles were rescued last week.
Earlier this year, Indonesian authorities foiled an attempt to smuggle more than 4,000 protected baby turtles worth tens of thousands of dollars to China.
More than 3,700 pig-nosed turtles and nearly 900 snake-necked turtles were found at the weekend, hidden in containers in a building on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta.
A government official said: ‘Customs officials succeeded in foiling an attempt to smuggle turtles.’
The turtles, worth an estimated $90,000, were concealed among clown loach fish, which can be legally exported from Indonesia.
The reptiles were destined to be flown to Guangzhou, southern China, said the statement.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the pig-nosed turtle as vulnerable and the snake-necked turtle as critically endangered, and says both species are popular as pets.
Some turtle species are also popular in China as exotic food or for use in traditional medicine.
Indonesia, a tropical archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, is home to a kaleidoscope of exotic animals and plants, but the illegal trade in wildlife is rampant and laws aimed at providing protection are often poorly enforced.
Numerous endangered species, from the Sumatran elephant to the Javan rhino, have been driven to the brink of extinction, with poachers targeting them for their body parts for use in traditional medicine.
Orangutans have also seen their habitats destroyed due to rapid expansion of palm oil plantations.
Source :Coconut Bali
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