In the 1980s, Bali had drawn the attention of the world’s community because it was considered a turtle slaughterer. This nickname came about when the world’s community was trying to conserve sea turtles in order to increase their population.
Balinese people instead consume turtle meat, both for customary events and large restaurant dishes. Handicraft industry using raw materials from turtle shells was also growing rapidly. Thousands of turtles were slaughtered annually for trade purposes, even at its peak in 1991, the turtles traded in Bali reached more than 24,000 heads.
The world’s community was trying to protect it after seeing a trend that turtles were getting rarer. The population decreased drastically due to the very high level of consumption in the form of meat and used as craft materials. In addition, it was also due to the increasing pressure on turtle nesting habitats by development in coastal areas.
To overcome these problems, there are two main activities needing to be done. First of all, it is to suppress the utilization rate of turtle products, both in the form of processed meat and handicrafts. Secondly, there needs to be an active effort to maintain the existence of the remaining turtle nesting habitats today. Thus, the declining turtle population can be increased again.
Bali Provincial Government has banned the craft industry using turtle raw materials, as well as limiting the use of turtles for consumption as much as 500 heads per year. This is also only permitted for green turtles, where this is done to reduce trade in turtle products. However, this cannot simply be done correctly. On that account, it is necessary to conduct educational counseling in an intensive and comprehensive manner so that the habit of consuming turtles can be reduced.
The turtle habitat protection program has been anticipated by WWF/IP Bali together with the Jembrana Natural Resources Conservation Agency (KSDA) by inviting the Perancak community to observe turtles that will lay their eggs. In addition to observations, an experiment was also carried out on hatching Hawksbill turtle eggs (Eretmochelys imbricata) obtained at the time of observation.
Perancak is chosen as the observation site because Perancak has long been known as a supplier area of turtles for consumption. Perancak waters are known as turtle crossing areas and the beach is a spawning ground for turtles. Along with counseling about turtle conservation, Perancak fishermen no longer hunt turtles as a livelihood. Even they follow up on the observation program and turtle egg hatching experiments that have been initiated by WWF/IP Bali together with the KSDA Jembrana.
Later on, some fishermen who caught turtles from Perancak village joined together to establish a turtle conservation group on June 11, 1997 under the name Kurma Asih Turtle Conservation Group. Kurma Asih itself means ‘turtle lover.’ One of the backgrounds of this group is that the program having been running with new hatchlings can reach the reproductive period at the age of 30 years.
It does not stop there, the age of the turtle species can reach hundreds of years, so they can be classified as ancient animals that are able to live until now. In addition, turtles are also able to maintain the balance of the ecosystem’s food chain in the sea.
Kurma Asih is a self-funded community group for turtle conservationists founded on June 11, 1997 by a community of former turtle hunters at Perancak village. To be precise, this Kurma Asih turtle conservation group is located at Mekar Sari Hamlet, Perancak, Negara, Jembrana. Located approximately 98 km by vehicle, about 3-hour drive from Denpasar, it does not make Kurma Asih quiet from visitors, both local and foreign tourists. (BTN/015)