#FreeTheTurtle: Netizens rage over tied-up turtle in Guimaras
MANILA, Philippines – Free the turtle!
This is the collective call of netizens over a photo of a pawikan (sea turtle) that went viral on Monday, May 4.
The photos taken at the Natago beach resort in Guimaras and posted by Donna Islao showed a pawikan tied up for a photo opportunity with tourists. Netizens tagged the incident as a form of animal cruelty.
Natago Beach Resort is part of the main land in Brgy Sinapsapan, Jordan, Guimaras.
“I saw this long rope floating just after the turtle and I thought it was just nothing. As I came closer, I was surprised that its shell has a hole and that the long rope was attached to it,” Islao shared. The photo was taken on Thursday, April 23.
According to Islao, caretakers charge P50 for each person who will be taking a photo with the tied-up turtle.
The post garnered 1,216 likes and 2,482 shares as of posting.
Through the combined efforts of netizens, the post quickly reached proper authorities.
“We had known of this illegal act at Natago Beach through Facebook this morning. So far we already had verified the location of the beach and according to records, it's a newly established beach resort," Rachel Ann Dequilla of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) PENRO Guimaras commented on the thread, a day after the photo was posted.
Responding to the Facebook post, the DENR Guimaras team coordinated with relevant offices and prepared tags and tape measures for the pawikan, a standard protocol to gather information such as nesting incidence and density of turtle populations, as well as the physical and biological features of a specific locality.
In a phone interview with Rappler, Dequilla said their team immediately proceeded to the Natago beach on Tuesday, May 5.
The pawikan, however, was no longer there when the team arrived.
"They said the turtle broke free from the rope maybe because it has been tied down for a long time already," Dequilla said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Aside from its world-class mangoes and pristine beaches, Guimaras is also known for its thriving sanctuary of sea turtles.
In February, turtles at the so-called Turtle island were released by the DENR-PENRO Guimaras office to comply with RA 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.
“We have an ongoing information, education, and communication campaigns on (the pawikan), and we'll continue to monitor the pawikan hotspots in Guimaras,” Dequilla promised. – Rappler.com
If you know of other similar cases, you may report them to the office of DENR through the following numbers: (033) 5812991/ 09071119770. You may also email them at email@example.com