Author Topic: Sea turtles and dugongs killed in barbaric fashion by Torres Strait Islanders  (Read 1288 times)

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Horror video shows sea turtles and dugongs being killed in barbaric fashion by Torres Strait Islanders          Animal cruelty height=366   A dugong is drowned by being towed by the tail along a small boat in the Torres Strait. Picture: Rupert Imhoff  Source: Supplied

SEA turtles and dugongs are being slaughtered by indigenous people during the "grace period" attached to new animal cruelty laws, welfare groups claim.

While Torres Strait Islanders are allowed to hunt the animals under Native Titles Act laws, a video shot by a conservationist last year has revealed they are suffering horrendous deaths.

Some turtles were videoed being smashed with concrete blocks, cut open and their fins removed while still alive. Dugongs were drowned by being towed tail-first behind a boat.

In Queensland, Aborigines and islanders were exempt from animal cruelty laws until the state government removed the loophole last September - but the crackdown came with a grace period.

"A 12-month grace period was granted when the new rules would generally not be enforced to allow time for adjustment," a spokesman for the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said.

"This period allows for communities to be informed about the laws and to have an opportunity to consider whether their hunting practices comply with the laws or how they might be modified to do so."

Conservationist Colin Riddell, of the Animal Coalition, said he was unaware of any other group or community in Australia where extreme animal cruelty was not being policed.

Animal cruelty:
      Animal cruelty height=366   A man tries to kill a sea turtle by hurling a concrete block at its head on a Torres Strait island. Picture: Rupert Imhoff Source: Supplied

"How long does it take for anyone to understand that smashing in something's head with blow after blow from a concrete block is just wrong, or that gutting and removing the flippers from a turtle while it's alive is wrong?" Mr Riddell said. Rupert Imhoff, who shot the video and has continued to investigate the issue, filmed an exhausted sea turtle tethered by a rope awaiting slaughter in the Torres Strait in May.

A Perth couple making a documentary on the issue said many islanders were opposed to the cruelty, but four or five extended families in the area were responsible for most of the cruel killings.

"They are taking anywhere between 200 and 400 to 500 dugongs and sea turtles - mainly green sea turtles - each year," the couple, who asked not to be named, said.

"We've seen turtles carried at high speed while being towed with a rope behind a 4WD on a beach. It's so far removed from traditional hunting and respect for animals, it's ridiculous."

The Queensland fisheries spokesman said there had been no prosecutions since the changes began.

"It is hoped that through the participation of traditional owners and communities in agreeing to improved animal welfare practices, formal enforcement will not be necessary."