The accepted scientific theory is that humans depend on the ecosystem to purify the environment and the different species are required to keep the ecosystem intact. When certain species become endangered, that usually means an unhealthy ecosystem. The extinction of endangered species can also lead to the loss of other species within that ecosystem.
Leatherback turtles are an endangered species across the world – meaning they’re slowly becoming extinct and could very well be extinct if their survival and reproduction is not guaranteed.
That is why Nigerian Lawyer and Conservationist, Doyinsola Ogunye intervened and prevented a horde of Nigerians from selling a leatherback turtle in Lagos on February 3, 2019.
In a video posted by Nigerian on Twitter by Nigerian social media personality, Wale Gates on February 4, 2019, Ogunye can be heard calling leatherback turtles the, “Most critically endangered turtles.”
She goes further to say that, “We’re trying to negotiate and we’re trying to make people understand that this particular species are critically endangered. We don’t want them to be extinct. If you’re watching this and you’ll like to do something, please do something.”
While Doyin was trying to get people to save this leatherback turtle, the horde of people desperate to sell the endagered species ignorantly started in Yoruba, saying, “What’s our business with what you’re saying? We will it eat! Big meat! Wait, will you give us 10 million? If you’ll give us 10 million, come carry it (the turtle).”
The turtle had characteristically come to the shore or beach to lay eggs – it digs the ground and lays egg in them, the goes back.
In another set of videos - presumably after the money issues had been settled, the same horde can be seen helping to move the turtle back into its habitat – the sea. Apparently, that wasn’t the first time such would happen around Elegushi beach, Ikate, Lagos. Another problem is the presence of poachers and willing buyers of these endangered species.
Telling the story on her Instagram page, Doyinsola wrote that these poachers intimated that they always have buyers at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. This time, their buyer was supposedly a Chinese man who allegedly wanted to eat the leatherback turtle.
Doyin writes that, “Totally fagged out from yesterday’s drama. So here’s the story!! Yesterday the 3rd of February 2019 I was resting and trying to figure out how to deal with the issues that happened the day before (the destruction of all our beach shelters by the wind).
“When I got a call from the local security head (OPC) that he found poachers with a giant turtle, he said they were asking for 500k (Naira) and wanted to sell it to Chinese men who wanted to eat it. He dissuaded them and told the poachers that he has one big madam (laughs) that would buy it for 500k.
“So he lured them to the @kidsbeachgarden - his name is Ola the real hero of this story. They came all the way from Ibeju-lekki - one hour thirty minute drive to the #Kidsbeachgarden. I went to the beach to wait for them. When they finally got to the beach they were already asking for their cash 500k. I told them I had only 10k and that’s not even for the turtle but for transportation (laughs).
“All hell broke loose! They were angered and they wanted to take it to #EkoHotel to sell - I begged them not to, they didn’t listen. I called all the Government Parastatals I knew, none responded - not one. They only advised me to continue the negotiations even after I told them I was stranded. That was when I knew there was trouble. Thankfully I reached out to my partners @Lufasipark (and) they donated.
“I was able to convince them with the help of Ola to let the turtle go. This was after I had parted with funds for at least the transportation (20k). When the #Leatherback #Glory was finally released, we got the names of the volunteers in the community and gave each one of them a token (1k) (each) - they were 49 persons altogether, so I’m officially broke.
"Ola is the true Champion of this story and we really should do more for his community because of him. He told me this in Yoruba “Doyinsola, it’s because of the respect (that) I have for you I did this.” That touched me.””
On the thread Wale Gates’ tweet created, Carlos Portillo, an El Salvadorian tweeted about how people in his country now treat leatherback. He wrote, “I am from El Salvador and some of the locals have been able to capitalize on protection efforts instead of catching them to sell for food. The key to success is to help them make money to live and feed their families since that is the reason why they do it in the first place.”
Doyin saved this leatherback turtle though.
Sadly, on the same thread, another Nigerian Twitter user, Yvonne posted a video of how another leatherback turtle was not as lucky – she was allegedly caught off the coast of the Atlantic at Okpoama Beach Bayelsa in January 2019 and eaten. In the video, a young man was even seen standing on the turtle, riding it like a horse, holding on to its arms.
For details, the hawkbill sea turtle is critically endangered with decreasing population; the green sea turtle is also critically endangered with decreasing population; and the loggerhead seat turtle is equally critically endangered.