This is the sorry end of the conservation tale, I went back to Indonesia again and India. I have yet to write the sorry end to it all. I tried to make a conservation go of it all but it was a hopeless mess.
Kura Kura (Turtle) Soup
Is turtle soup on the menu? Well it nearly was. I got to the restaurant where Artik works in the evening. They show me a bucket, inside is a rather unhappy looking Softshelled Turtle. As usual in these situations in Indonesia I assume that the word was out and another Kura Kura whistled up just for me, how wrong could I be? Making the most of the situation we take the turtle home. Next day I plan to measure, weigh and photograph it.
This morning our softshelled friend is looking fine, if a little bored and resigned to his bucket fate. Now Artik informs me that the Kura Kura was found by builders near the restaurant. They were intending to take it home and make turtle soup. If Artik had not insisted that they should not kill it and leave it for me, our little turtle today would not be in a bucket but a builders stomach. I feel a little bad for taking free food away from the builders. At the same time this wonderful creature could have another 70 years head of it. I can see they would little understand why Artik was so instant, they probably think we took it home and now the turtle in our stomachs. Would they really think we were mad enough to take pictures and then put it back? Not really on the radar for a potentially starving builder.
We take it to a stream where photos are taken as I avoid its teeth and claws. I then go to take it to the water where it becomes excited and wants out. I release it onto the stream. Immediately with neck stretched out, it drives deep and vanishes. We then go home with a bucket full of turtle urine, and a camera full of saved and recorded turtle.
Artik had thought that we should keep him, her mind being on the captive breeding centre track. However I said that he would be better in the wild, if he could avoid builders stomachs. At least this turtle had a second chance because I was here in Bukit Lawang. I did mention Joko Guntoro’s captive breeding centre but felt holding onto the poor thing for long enough for collection would be unfair, even assuming Joko would want it. Seeing the Kura Kura free, for the moment, hopefully for his lifetime, did make me feel a lot better, regardless of what a Indonesian builder may think of me.
Arrived at the restaurant and another softshell turtle is waiting for me. This one is more aggressive. Was found in the stream next to the restaurant. They were going to make turtle soup but Artik told them not to. The others there tell me how nice it would have tasted. I take our turtle home. I weigh, measure and take photos.
The turtle waits patiently all night. In the morning we take it to the stream that leads to the jungle and let it go. I leave the bucket laying down but it is almost as if it was resigned to being soup. Then it makes for the water with what looks like turtle surprise on its face.
10th Dec 2012
Joko comes to Bukit where the guide from last time has caught a spiny turtle for us to record
The road to Garhaita: from Goa to volunteering with TSA India.
Early Jan I arrived in Goa. Though this does not seem like a conservation move, to arrive in the hippy pstrance music party destination, that was in-fact the plan. My money running low in voluntary conservation meant I needed to boost my funds. For sometime I had been making recycled leather products, mostly leather bracelets, which I decided the Russian tourists would like. Further than this I planned to promote my webdesign and DJ skills. Armed with a bunch of posters I decorated Anjuna with them. Pretty soon there was a lot of webdesign and DJ work coming in, actually more than I could cope with! In the morning I would get up and switch on the computer, webdesign all day, then switch it off and go to bed. Other days I would cycle to my webdesign clients. Wednesday was a day off, of sorts, for the leather stall on the flea market. I found that, while it sold, I had to reduce my prices a long way. The main profit was in the items I had made myself. Being that my grandparents worked in leather for many years there was a good stock of free leather and buckles. This made the self made items pure profit, probably as well when I was selling for less than 5 euros. With the DJ work I played at Curlies, Lilliput, UV, Hippies and the crowning glory Bamboo Forest. This is a venue little used these days but was the psychedelic party place back in the day, and the first place I ever heard Goa trance. Being friends with Andy Smith who runs a tattoo place (look him up for a tattoo) this was how it came about. Andy has been a musical guru for me and helped me a lot with music production and DJ skills. He was making parties in Goa back in the day, an unsung pioneer. Bamboo Forest is the only place he DJ’s as these days as it is his spiritual home. A couple of days before I was due to leave a party was organised. Andy and I both played a 7 hour set each. A real life moment for me and a DJ pinnacle thus far!
The plan after Goa always had been to then head off and work for the Turtle Survival Alliance as a volunteer again. My main contact there Shashwat advised me that he was up at Garhaita and the headstart facility there for captive breeding of freshwater turtles. The village of Garhaita is 15k from Udi Mode, which is a further 5k from Etawah. About 4 hours bay fast train from Delhi.
I headed down there after 2 months in Goa. It had been a reasonably profitable time. From the overnight train I took a bus at Kota to Shivpuri. Here I spent the night. Then to Bhind via Gwalior. From Bhind to Udi Mode. All the time the landscape got more and more rural and my lack of Hindi more and more obvoius. In Udi Mode Shashwat was waiting for me.
In the village I was shown the facility, met the staff and the captive turtles. The next couple of days involved clearing, organsising and tidying the office. Interspersed with feeding turtles. The kitchen needed sorting out and we built and stocked it. Once these admin tasks were sorted out we repaired filtration unit which is needed to circulate the water in the breeding pens. At the end of my time we were preparing for a survey: shopping for hardware and setting up equipment. Unfortunately I was unable to go on the survey was my flight had already been booked.
The final tale has not been published here yet.