The residents of Bima, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) reportedly cut up a melon-headed whale that got stranded and died in the area, in what appears to be the most recent incident illustrating the lack of awareness about protected species among Indonesian citizens.
A video showing two men transporting the protected species on a motorcycle went viral over the weekend, with several reports misidentifying the marine mammal as a dolphin. Permana Yudiarso, the head of the Coastal and Marine Resources Management Center (BPSPL) in Denpasar, said that it’s more likely that it was a melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra).
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“The whale was dead, or recently died, with its mouth still secreting mucus. Before it stranded and died, a local resident that passed by the location tried to rescue and help push the whale back to the sea. However, the whale got stranded on the beach again and it was already helpless when found,” Permana said.
The residents said they were unaware that the whale was a protected species, and so it was taken home and then cut up into pieces with its chunks of meat divided among them, reportedly to be eaten.
Due to their lack of knowledge on the issue, it’s not yet clear whether the people involved will be facing legal consequences for their actions. Under Indonesia’s 1990 Conservation Law, the taking of a protected species is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
Barmawi, another official from BPSPL Denpasar, said the residents in question have been schooled on the matter.
“I gave the perpetrators an understanding that all whales and dolphins are protected by law. And so we reminded the perpetrator not to repeat his action,” Barmawi said, explaining that the legal aspects of these incidents are handled by a different body, namely Marine and Fisheries Resources Surveillance Station (PSDKP) in Benoa, Bali.
This article, Protected melon-headed whale cut up for meal in West Nusa Tenggara, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.