Liberec Zoo contribution to sea turtle conservation is connected with the protection of Bangkaru island and Nias hill myna in the archipelago of Pulau Banyak off the north-western coast of Sumatra. In 2016, field researchers of Liberec Zoo in cooperation with Indonesian army arrested gang of turtle egg poachers. The massive turtle egg poaching caused that there were zero hatching rate for several months on Bangkaru island. During this action, three poachers were arrested and sentenced for prison for 1 and half year.
Poachers from Bangkaru were later invited to join educational program at local schools. Liberec Zoo staff and poachers visited 30 schools on Sumatra in total. The program focused on education about sea turtles, marine ecosystem, and the importance of its conservation. The students got familiar about the story of the poachers and had an opportunity to discuss how should people behave towards nature.
As a natural follow-up on successful events from Sumatra in sea turtle conservation, two more actions were initiated in Derawan archipelago close to East Kalimantan. In 2019, more than 1200 turtle eggs and explosives for blast fishing were seized at a fishermen boat. During the second action, tortoiseshell jewelry and raw scutes from more than 300 hawksbill turtles were acquired from local vendors. Again, both events were conducted in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental stakeholders. Indonesian colleagues involved in the events were bestowed ‘Biodiversity Tree’ award for their extraordinary contribution to the biodiversity conservation. During the ceremony, the awards were handed over by the Czech Ambassador in Indonesia Mr. Ivan Hotek.
Field conservationists from Liberec Zoo continue with sea turtle conservation via participating in a long-term research of sea turtle trade and hawksbill and green sea turtle population genetics across Indonesia. As a part of the Marine Turtle Use and Trade Initiative community-based surveys are conducted in local communities. Questionnaires surveys and interviews are about to reveal information mechanisms and patterns of trade in sea turtles and its socio-economic and cultural drivers. Furthermore, research and subsequent analyses of hawksbill turtle population genetics will help to identify management units for further conservation and planning. Study results will also contribute to ShellBank database that aims to track the origin of tortoiseshell products on both national and international level. These activities are being done in cooperation with other experts and scientists from Marine Turtle Genetic Working Group, WWF Australia, Syiah Kuala University (Banda Aceh), IPB University (Bogor), and Czech University of Life Sciences Prague.