Indonesia: 2,000 Smuggled Turtle Eggs Seized in Balikpapan

Tunggadewa Mattangkilang Jakarta Globe 4 May 13;

Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. About 2,000 eggs from turtles on the verge of extinction in Southeast Sulawesi have been seized by port security in East Kalimantan after they were sent via passenger boat and addressed to a person in Samarinda.

Police in Balikpapan seized the eggs, trading in which is illegal, and have detained one person who picked up the delivery. They are questioning the person in a bid to learn more about the sender of the eggs, which came from Bau Bau.

“In the past, the owners would take [the eggs] themselves from Bau Bau by boat. Now that security is very strict they [decide to] send them. A courier would pick them up at the port,” Sitohang, chief of the port security unit, said on Friday.

Sitohang said he had sent an investigating team and was cooperating with the Bau Bau Police to find the sender of the turtle eggs, adding that this was the first case this year.

“There were five cases and three suspects last year. All of them have been jailed in accordance to Law No. 5/1990 on the conservation of natural resources and the ecosystem, which carries a five-year prison sentence and a fine up to Rp 100 million [$10,300],” he said.

Danang Anggoro, an official at East Kalimantan’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said that Samarinda had become the second biggest market in East Kalimantan for turtle eggs after Berau, because the turtle eggs there are sold for Rp 10,000 each while in Bau Bau three turtle eggs sell for only Rp 1,000.

“The expensive price has led to a rampant delivery of the eggs from Bau Bau. Last year alone, we seized 7,000 eggs from Bau Bau that entered the Semayang port [in East Kalimantan] ,” Danang said.

In anticipating the smuggling of turtle eggs, Southeast Sulawesi BKSDA has coordinated with police to tighten security on several islands and to conduct raids on turtle egg traders in Samarinda.

Turtle egg traders are still found in several areas in Samarinda, although trading of turtle eggs has been banned.

“There are still people selling them. Last April we arrested six turtle eggs traders who mostly came from Bau Bau. There aren’t that many from Berau any more,” he said.
Danang urged a halt to consumption of turtle eggs because turtles are protected by the national and international laws and are on the verge of extinction.

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