Lamu, KENYA: Kenya Wildlife Service-KWS officers in Lamu are detaining a middle aged man who was found to be in possession of over 50 kilos of turtle meat on Wednesday evening.
The suspect Bwasadi Lali ,a fisherman was arrested alongside two other fishermen who are said to have escaped from police shortly after they were captured in Pate island in Lamu East.
Police said the two are currently being sought.
Confirming the incident,Lamu KWS Senior Warden Jacob Orale said the suspect is being held at the Mokowe police post as he awaits being charged in court on Friday.
“We have arrested him with over 50 kg of turtle meat. Two others escaped but are being hunted down. We shall have them charged so that they serve as the perfect deterrence for like minded individuals.” Said Orale.
Orale said there was an increase in turtle poaching in Pate and other islands in Lamu East and that his office had already dispatched more KWS to areas where the vice is prime to hunt down and arrest culprits.
Orale said turtle population all around the globe was dwindling dangerously and as such was at the verge of extinction and called on concerted efforts to save the sea reptile.
Orale asked locals to desist from forming excuses as to why they must be allowed to consume turtle meat and instead seek to protect it.
“When we say hands off the turtle,we mean that. It’s not a game. The turtle is at the verge of extinction and we shall do anything to sustain its population and that includes imploring harsh penalties,” said Orale.
Lamu locals believe that turtle meat,fat and soup have the ability to cure Asthma and boost male libido.
Orale said the beliefs surrounding the turtle consumption were not only false but were also misleading and selfish.
He asked locals with low libido,Asthma and other illnesses to seek medical help from hospitals instead of killing turtles on the pretext that they were of curative value.
“If anyone has problems with their libido or have asthma, there are hospitals all over this county that can solve that. People should stop issuing all sorts of excuses just so they can eat turtles. We will keep arresting and prosecuting till that misleading belief is over with,” said Orale.
Section 92 of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 states that anyone found in possession of endangered species is liable to a fine of not less than Sh 20 million or life in prison or both.
Earlier this week, residents of Kizingitini in Lamu East asked the government to lift a ban forbidding them from fishing and eating turtles which they believe are of great medicinal value.