Who’s going to speak on wildlife attacks?

Mahatma Gandhi said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.
Of the seven known species of marine turtle, the Leatherback, Dermochelys coriacea is unique. It is the world’s only warm-blooded reptile. The Leatherback can regulate its body heat so that it is able to maintain a temperature of 80oF even in water that is almost freezing. It is also capable up diving to depths of several thousand feet, making it the deepest diving of all air-breathing animals.
The Leatherback, largest of all the turtles, gets its name from its tough, black skin. It ranges throughout all the oceans of the world and can reach a weight of over 2,000 pounds. In September of 1988 a Leatherback washed ashore on the coast of Wales was almost nine feet long and checked in at a record 2,016 pounds.
Unlike the other smaller species of turtle, whose diet includes seaweed, and a variety of small marine creatures, the Leatherback feeds almost exclusively on jellyfish. This  dietary preference makes it extremely vulnerable to pollution of the marine environment by garbage. Plastic bags, when floating around in the water, are often mistaken by the turtles for the jellyfish that they normally eat, but they are unable to digest them and the bags collect in the animal’s stomach, blocking natural digestion. After a while, the animals simply dies of starvation.
Turtles do not mature until they are several years old and even then most species will mate and nest only every two or three years. The average clutch size for a female Leatherback is 85 eggs, but not all of these will hatch. Of those that do, the majority may never reach the sea. Crabs, rats and birds like the yellow-crowned night heron eagerly await their emergence and even when they reach the comparative safety of the water there are other predators waiting for them in the surf. More dangerous however,
than any of these are the humans who attack the turtle while she is still on the nest, killing her, taking her eggs and dealing a death blow to future turtle populations.
The Leatherback that was so cruelly mutilated at Sandy Beach in Vieux Fort, had come there during the night to lay her eggs. Many visitors to St Lucia pay for the privilege of going on turtle watch to witness this amazing event. On this occasion, however, tourists from a nearby hotel hearing that one of these unique turtles had come ashore were greeted by the sight of a female so severely wounded that she eventually died there on the beach.
In Saint Lucia, all species of marine turtle are protected by law and there is a closed season, from May 1st until August 31st to give the females the protection they need if they are to nest successfully. It is illegal to kill turtles that have come ashore to nest, to interfere with the nest, or to remove eggs from it. The maximum penalty for any of these things is $5,000. But laws are only good if they can be enforced and who is going to blow the whistle on the killers who stalk the beaches in the dead of night?
Other countries are discovering the tourist potential in natural destinations, especially
those where events like the mating of whales or nesting turtles can be observed. Tourism is fast becoming a vital factor in our economy. If we are to attract business away from other destinations we need every advantage we can muster. The opportunity to see a unique turtle species nesting is an asset we can ill afford to lose.

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