Wildlife officials in Sabah, Malaysia made a grisly discovery on patrol last Friday when they found the carcasses of 11 endangered sea turtles turned over and split open with their insides hanging out.
The animals were believed to have been slaughtered for their meat, Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga told AFP. Sacks of suspected turtle meat, a stove and a knife were also found at the scene.
An endangered CITES-listed species, green sea turtles are among the largest sea turtles and have been known to migrate long distances between feeding grounds and hatching beaches. Like other sea turtle species, they are under threat from poachers, who hunt them for their meat and eggs, and other human activity. Many also die by drowning when they get caught and entangled in fishing nets.
The animals are protected under Malaysian law, with jail terms and hefty fines imposed on offenders.
A spokesman from Sabah wildlife department told VICE World News that investigations were still ongoing but no one had been arrested yet.
The department added that such crimes in the area, off the Malaysian part of Borneo island, which is also claimed by neighboring Indonesia and Brunei, were usually committed by members of an indigenous sea-dwelling community called the Bajau Laut.
Sometimes referred to as sea gypsies, the nomadic community typically live on boats. However, they are stateless, roving freely across the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia and fish for their living.
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