In the west of the island Nias (North Sumatra Province, Indonesia), we have located another beach that is regularly frequented by leatherbacks during the nesting season from November to March. To get an accurate picture of the situation, we commissioned a trustworthy man from the nearby town of Telukdalam to regularly visit Moale beach during the 2023/24 nesting season and document traces of nesting turtles.

Poaching cases documented

Unfortunately, our project scout Ya’aro Halawa not only encountered looted nests, but also the carcasses of five poached leatherback turtles. Further research revealed that the inhabitants of 5 neighbouring villages regularly visit the beach to look for nests and turtles. Unlike the Muslim population of the neighbouring province of Aceh, the predominantly Christian inhabitants of Nias have no qualms about eating the meat of sea turtles. On the contrary – the eggs and meat of the sea turtles are a welcome source of income. The animals are sold at tragically low prices of around 17 euros for the meat of an adult leatherback turtle and around 10 cents per egg. The fact that sea turtles are also protected under Indonesian law, however, is still unknown.

Cooperation planned with neighbouring villages

As the loss of adult animals in particular is a catastrophe for the already severely decimated population, we want to start cooperating with the two villages located directly on the nesting beach in the coming nesting season. Compensating for the lost income from the sale of meat and eggs by letting them participate in beach patrols and data collection is a comparatively small hurdle in view of the grotesquely low prices.

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