(CNS): The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has confirmed that one of their patrol vehicles was damaged in a collision with suspected turtle poachers early Tuesday morning, after they were called to a report of a turtle in distress at Barkers. Police said the call came into them around 6am, and when a patrol car in the area arrived at the scene, the officers signalled to a Honda, believed to be the poacher’s getaway vehicle. But instead of stopping, the suspects hit the police car and made their escape. It appears that staff employed by the Cayman Turtle Centre to patrol the West Bay shoreline alerted the police.
Other reports on social media suggest that the poachers had threatened the CTC’s watchman with a knife.
Meanwhile, speaking with Cayman 27 about the incident, CTC Director Tim Adam said poachers and the people who assist or buy from them are “parasites in our community, sucking the very life blood out of a very important element of her tourism industry”.
Adam said the annual impact of one adult nesting turtle to Cayman’s economy is in the neighbourhood of $25,000 and more than $1.5 million over the lifetime of the animal. “Butchering it and selling it, the most that you’re going to make is a few hundred dollars, and then it is done,” Adam told the TV station.
Disturbing, molesting, or taking turtles without a licence is an offence under the National Conservation Law, with a maximum fine of up to $500,000 or four years in jail on conviction.
Police are now investigating this incident but are interested in hearing from members of the public who may have seen a turtle being taken from the water on Tuesday morning in West Bay. They can also submit tips via the RCIPS website.