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24.11.2003 General News

100 kg turtle seized

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The Ghana Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission on Monday seized a 100-kilogram Leather-backed turtle killed by fishermen at the Riviera Beach, Accra.

Mr Joseph Yaw Oppong, Executive Director of the Wild Life Division, who took the dead turtle to the GNA, said the fishermen abandoned the carcass and ran away when they saw him and his team approaching them.

He said the fishermen knew from the education that the Wildlife Division had given them that turtles should be protected because they were endangered species.

Mr Oppong said the meat of the turtle was a delicacy and the one he had seized could fetch about two million cedis on the market.

He said he was sending the turtle to the Accra Zoo and if it were found to be wholesome it would be fed to the carnivores or buried if it were unwholesome.

He warned that it was an offence to kill, capture or be in possession of marine turtles of any kind - Green, Hawksbill or Leatherback.

Transporters, particularly commercial drivers were also asked not to carry turtles dead, alive or even its smoked meat as they would be committing a crime.

Marine turtles aere threatened species facing extinction and their breeding season starts from now to June next year.

They are classified as schedule one animals in the Wildlife Conservation Regulations.

Mr Oppong said failure to observe the Regulations was an offence punishable by a fine or imprisonment or to both.

Turtles have long development period taking about 25 years or more to mature and only few of the hatchlings do attain maturity because some become food for other wild animals including fishes right from the moment they come out of their nests.

Mr Oppong said, "as it is, turtles that mature return to their place of birth to lay eggs, no turtle will come back to our beaches if none is allowed to hatch on our beaches".

He called on the public to keep the sea free of plastic wastes, as turtles easily got confused with them.

The Police, District Assemblies, traditional rulers, chief fishermen, fishermen, bush beat sellers and all persons living along the coast have been asked to be guardians of these creatures.

He appealed to the public to ensure that their eggs were not collected from their nests on the beaches and rather assist any excessively tired female turtle to return to sea and that it was necessary to ensure a safe and successful egg-laying period for marine turtles to guarantee their continual survival and presence in the country

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