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  Endangered Species

It's a common sight to see men and boys walking the back roads of Bali carrying small caliber rifles and air guns for the purpose of shooting birds for food or sport. Because it's illegal to shoot birds without a license, if you see this say "Jangan membawa senapan tanpa ijin!" ("Don't carry a gun without a license!").

Among Indonesia's endangered wild creatures are its sea turtles. The much-publicized turtle-breeding ground off the island of Serangan in southeastern Bali is a cover-up. At least 25,000 turtles per year are caught in Indonesia's seas and slaughtered for Bali's major festivals, in which turtle meat and turtle soup are entrenched ceremonial requirements.

Really big festivals require the consumption of as many as 50 of these magnificent wild creatures. This is an issue, which has the international conservation community incensed.

To appreciate the magnitude of the problem, visit Pegok village in the eastern suburbs of Denpasar, where you can see the sad spectacle of dozens of turtles lined up for butchering, immobilized with their front flippers tied together in front of their beaks.

Before you buy turtle products or order turtle sate at one of Bali's restaurants, remember that sight. One good sign is that the number of tourist shops in south Bali selling stuffed sea turtles and turtle-shell products has dwindled considerably.

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