Pante Hera (Turtle Beach in Manggarai Language) in South Flores, Indonesia, aims for a balanced approach between protection of turtles, community development and eco-tourism. Since turtles are (critically) endangered and their eggs still poached for consumption it is crucial to protect their nesting beaches. Our turtle conservation center focuses on working with the community, protecting the culture and teaching the economic value of turtle protection.
The Panta Hera Turtle Conservation Center (TCC) was established in South Flores as an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization. TCC aims to protect all sea turtles native to these beaches. Focused on devising and facilitating the implementation of sustainable marine turtle conservation strategies through education, research and community participation. The activities consist of protecting the turtles and turtle nests, community building, raising awareness and research activities.
Turtle Conservation Center: Creating Income
Our location is pioneering the in situ marine turtle conservation program. Since the most widespread form of turtle exploitation within this area is illegal poaching and sales of turtle eggs, the TCC has implemented an environmentally sound model – a program involving local people formerly dependent of the collection of turtle eggs. Culturally the turtles were not a normal part of the communities diet, so the poaching was primarily opportunistic. In the past decade a demand for soup made from the eggs has increased massively – mostly in the large cities of Jakarta and Surabaya – and this has made poaching a small income source. Rather than taking away this income stream, we have replaced it with a scheme to pay for undisturbed nests and number of hatchlings. Currently we are paying 3 times the market rate for eggs. Thus, involving the community as “turtle rangers” we have been able to provide them with an alternative, more sustainable income to the poaching of turtle eggs. Combining this with teaching opportunities about the immediate value of the nests and the hatchlings.
Our innovative accommodation plan is focused on creating a self-sustaining program wherein the accommodation provides income to the village, protects the turtles and exemplifies sustainable tourism practices to these remote areas. We are working with local tour operators to train guides for other activities in the area – showing that the local ecosystem provides many different opportunities as long as it is protected.
Pante Hera: the Future
Currently the massive Savu Sea Marine Protected Area has been signed into law, but with no funding or protection, we must provide all this ourselves. It is the goal of Panta Hera Turtle Conservation Center to be a role-model to other communities throughout the MPA.