GUY-01: Juvenile male Hawksbill turtle rescued from junkie, returned to the sea
Mondale Smith Kaieteur News - Georgetown abril 2007
Stories of inhumanity laced with blood, gore and human atrocities abound and probably will continue as long as the human population exists. But amidst the many human reality stories, there are some which involve human hearts and animals. One such is the worldwide reality of marine turtles.
In the life of the Hawksbill turtle, out of every 120-130 eggs hatched, only one survives to full maturity.
Of the four species of marine turtles that nest on Guyana’s sea shores, the Hawksbill is one of the lowest numbers but, according to reports from Guyana Marine Turtle Conservationists, Audley James, and Romeo De Freitas, who is responsible for the direct sea turtle conservation activities of Guyana, this season could be easily considered a bumper nesting crop since from late January, an average of 15 turtles are seen each night at the Almond Beach camp.
Save for venturing off shore during mating season, male sea turtles spend their entire life at sea and reportedly almost never encounter the human touch. But if they do, the end result is to remove them from fishing nets, dead.
Last Wednesday, a drug addict (junkie) on the Kingston Seawall happened upon a juvenile male Hawksbill turtle. Animal lover, Girvan Singh was taking his morning run. "I observed a man walking on the road with a live sea turtle. I immediately stopped and enquired where he was going with the turtle and where he found it. He indicated that he was going to cook it and that he found it along the seashore."
Seeking to save the turtle, the negotiations began. "I asked him whether he was willing to part with the turtle since it belonged in the sea or in a zoo. He told me that he would be willing to part with same for $1000."
However, through negotiations, the animal was handed over for a much lower price.
Thereafter Singh contacted his father, Major General (ret’d) Joseph Singh, and followed his advice to take it to the zoo.
Minutes later, at about 08:15 hrs, Guyana Zoological Park Animal Health Supervisor, Leslie Lewis, recalled that while in the office, his friend Mr. Singh "turned up and showed me what turned out to be a juvenile Hawksbill measuring about ten inches. He said he rescued it from a junkie on the Kingston seawall. This was a rare find and I told him what it was."
Lewis’s immediate response was to call Turtle Conservationist, Annette Arjoon who said she would be right over to speedily return it to the wild. In the meantime, the turtle needed a close to home environment which Lewis created with some cooking salt and water in a wheelbarrow as he says "to reduce the possible stress on the turtle."
Arjoon and another conservationist, Shondell France, quickly emptied the cassava bread container and sped off to the zoo as the most important thing was to get the turtle back into the sea as quickly as possible.
They also checked the tide outside the Pegasus and, according to them, "it was mid tide and as such perfect".
Minutes later they showed up at the zoo. Upon hearing the story, she nicknamed the turtle Girvan and then it was off to the seawall.
But on the way, France realised that the turtle was constantly hitting its flippers against the container and decided to employ her motherly instincts to calm the turtle down. She placed him in her lap and momentarily it pooped on her clothing, which is considered as a blessing; so they planned to purchase a lotto ticket right after the rescue operation was completed.
On the seawall, in the presence of senior journalist Adam Harris, they watched as Girvan made his way back into the waters, swam against the waves and soon disappeared. Harris was left as one bemused journalist who had never witnessed a turtle swim against the waves.
No one knows the fate there after of Girvan but, according to Annette Arjoon, "It is a privilege to get up close and personal to the juvenile Hawksbill sea turtle."