The Sabah Wildlife Department has been instructed to investigate a picture of a child riding a sea turtle according to Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah Christina Liew.
The disturbing photo has appeared across social media over the weekend as it shows a young girl on a boat sitting astride what appears to be a live sea turtle. The photo also shows an adult placing his or her foot on the turtle while grasping the child’s life jacket as countless adults watch in entertainment.
Liew, who is also Sabah’s Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said such behaviour is unacceptable as turtles are protected by law in Sabah.
“I cannot comment further until the investigation is complete. What can I say – this is an offense.
“We welcome tourists to Sabah who visit because there are many beautiful places, but at the same time, we expect tourists to respect our laws. To catch a turtle, put it on a boat and ride it is unacceptable,” she said.
Details about the operator and parties involved are currently sparse but captions of the original photo say that the turtles are being removed from the water to offer tourists the opportunity come in contact with the marine reptiles. It is also being reported that the turtles are frequently stepped on to ensure they cannot get away which can be seen in the photo.
If anyone has any further information regarding this tour operator or others who are handling marine life as shown in the photo, please report it right away to the proper authorities. Social media is a powerful tool that can get a message out quickly that will help put an end to disgusting incidents such as this.
There are tour programs across the world doing great work to help promote and protect all marine life, but please under no circumstances, do not give any money to tour programs who are blatantly ignoring the wellbeing of wildlife.
It is time for all of us to wake up as a society and do everything we can to protect the wildlife of this planet.