(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) – People who are caught harming or ill-treating the leatherback turtle can face a hefty fine of $100,000 and jail for two years.
Recently a 39-second video surfaced on social media showing a leatherback turtle attempting to return to the sea after laying her eggs but was being hampered by several men who were seen pulling on its flippers and trying to drag it back to the shore. One of the men was then seen stepping onto the back of the turtle while attempting to place a child on it. Another person was seen climbing onto the turtle’s back.
As the turtle nesting season official opened on March 1, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) said the leatherback turtle is an environmentally sensitive species and strongly condemned the ill-treatment of the leatherback turtles.
The Authority made an appeal to citizens to refrain from harming turtles, and by extension all wildlife in general.
“It is especially disheartening that after concerted efforts by government and non-governmental entities to sensitise persons against sitting or riding on the carapace of leatherback turtles, this is still happening now,” the EMA said in a release.
The EMA is expected to conduct further investigations into this recent incident with a view to determining the relevant enforcement actions to be taken.
The EMA will also collaborate with the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries on other possible actions to be taken as the leatherback turtle is protected under the Conservation of Wildlife Act.
Concerned persons and those who may have information to help the EMA in its investigations are asked to contact EMA’s Emergency Response Hotline at 680-9588.’