French island paradise under threat from violent poachers

Monday, 10 Jul, 2017

A beach popular with tourists during the day has become a slaughterhouse by night as sea turtles coming to shore to lay their eggs are killed by violent poachers with complete impunity. An Operation Nyamba campaign update by President of Sea Shepherd France, Lamya Essemlali.                                                  



A volunteer inspects the carcass of a turtle left by fleeing poachers. Photo Sea Shepherd.

Less than two weeks after the horrifying pictures of poached sea turtles on the French islands of Mayotte, our team interrupted another slaughter on the night of Friday July 7th, this time even more violent. When our team of volunteers arrived at the beach known as Moya 1, one of the most popular and touristic places on the Petit Terre island, they were tracked by a 4x4 vehicle, its lights switched off and waiting to pick up the turtle meat, even though there should have been guards there to protect the turtles who come to lay their eggs.

As our volunteers arrived, they found two turtles ripped open with their eggs scattered in the sand. The poachers, who had run to hide on a hill overlooking the beach, then began throwing large rocks at the volunteers from above, barely missing their heads. No one was hurt, however the poachers also set our team’s car on fire. There was no sign of the guards who were supposedly there to patrol the beaches.

A female sea turtle killed by poachers on Moya 1 Beach, Mayotte. Photo Sea Shepherd.
The gutted carcass of a sea turtle who came ashore to lay her eggs. Photo Sea Shepherd.
The discarded body of a sea turtle killed by poachers on the beach at Mayotte. Photo Sea Shepherd.
The knife of a poacher left behind after being interrupted by Sea Shepherd volunteers. Photo Sea Shepherd.
Unfortunately the turtles were killed before being able to lay their eggs. Photo Sea Shepherd.

"We will not give up on Mayotte. And if we have oftentimes stated that we would give our lives for whales, we are equally ready to do the same for turtles."

Operation Nyamba Campaign Leader and President of Sea Shepherd France, Lamya Essemlali

Despite the intervention of police, who responded to our call and helped us seize some of the turtle meat which was left behind by the fleeing poachers, no arrests could be made. Although the three officers were willing and courageous enough to come to our assistance, the security on the beach that night were grossly insufficient when confronted with the scale of the threat.

France seems to remain blind and deaf concerning the social and ecological crisis which is raging in Mayotte. France is letting its overseas department perish, a place which is home to one of the world’s largest lagoons, rich in local biodiversity. The only law which seems to prevail on this island is the law of the jungle. This condition has caused social and environmental chaos which is hard to imagine in continental France. Once a true paradise, Mayotte has now become hell on earth.

Sea Shepherd launched Operation Nyamba in response to the cries for help by locals who don’t want to their island to perish from indifference, and it’s with them that we’re take action, hand-in-hand. Even though the circumstances on the ground turned out to be worse and more dramatic than we expected, the situation has only reinforced our determination.

Watch the video (below):

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