French island paradise under threat from violent poachers

Sea Shepherd volunteers attacked when trying to protect sea turtles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 13, 2017

Less than two weeks after publishing the graphic images of poached sea turtles on the French island of Mayotte, Sea Shepherd’s conservation team interrupted another slaughter on the night of Friday July 7th, and this time -- as captured on video footage -- it turned violent.

When the volunteers arrived at the beach known as Moya 1, one of the most popular tourist beaches on the Petit Terre island, they spotted a 4x4 vehicle, its lights switched off as it waited to pick up poached turtle meat. The guards, who should have been there to protect the turtles who come to lay their eggs, were nowhere to be seen.

Down on the beach, the volunteers found two turtles ripped open with their eggs scattered in the sand. There was no sign of the guards who were supposedly there to patrol the beaches, so Sea Shepherd alerted the local gendarmes. The poachers, who had run to hide on a hill overlooking the beach, began throwing large rocks at the volunteers and police from above, barely missing their heads. No one was hurt, however the poachers also set the Sea Shepherd volunteers’ car on fire.

Despite the intervention of three police officers, who helped seize some of the turtle meat which was left behind by the fleeing poachers, no arrests could be made because the security on the beach that night was grossly insufficient compared to the scale of the threat.

“France seems to remain blind and deaf concerning the social and ecological crisis which is raging in Mayotte,” said President of Sea Shepherd France, Lamya Essemlali. 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 at the request of the locals who don’t want to see their island perish from indifference, and now work hand-in-hand with them to fight the poaching with direct action.

“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,” says Essemlali. “We will not give up on Mayotte. If we have often stated we would give our lives to protect whales, we are equally ready to do the same for turtles.”

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VIDEO AND HI-RES IMAGES (all copyright Sea Shepherd Global): http://minerva.seashepherdglobal.org:8080/share.cgi?ssid=0dd7d8M   

Learn more about Operation Nyamba: https://www.seashepherdglobal.org/our-campaigns/operation-nyamba/

For further information, additional images and interview requests contact:
Heather Stimmler, Sea Shepherd Global Media Director
E-mail: heather@seashepherdglobal.org Tel: +339 7719 7742

Sea Shepherd Global

Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit marine conservation movement using innovative tactics and direct action to defend, conserve and protect the worlds oceans and marine wildlife. Founded by Paul Watson in 1977, today Sea Shepherd is a worldwide movement with independent national and regional entities in over 20 countries. With the exception of the US-based Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS), they are united by a common mission through Sea Shepherd Global, based in Amsterdam, which coordinates communications, logistics and a fleet of five ships to cooperate on campaigns around the world. Sea Shepherd investigates and documents violations of international and national conservation law, and enforces conservation measures where legal authority exists. For more information, visit: http://www.seashepherdglobal.org/

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About Us

SEA SHEPHERD GLOBAL Established in 1977, Sea Shepherd is an international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organization. Our mission is to end the destruction of habitat and slaughter of wildlife in the world's oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species. Sea Shepherd uses innovative direct-action tactics to investigate, document, and take action when necessary to expose and confront illegal activities on the high seas. By safeguarding the biodiversity of our delicately-balanced ocean ecosystems, Sea Shepherd works to ensure their survival for future generations. A selection of press images are available on our Media Site (high-res images and a videos without watermarks available to qualified press on request): http://media.seashepherdglobal.org/

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