Indonesia in hot water over dolphin release plans
Source : AFP-YAHOO News – Thu Jun 16, 10:39 am ET
JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia’s plans to release captive dolphins directly into the sea rather than put them through a rehabilitation programme drew fire from animal welfare activists Thursday.
Activists said the dolphins from a zoo and a travelling circus would almost certainly die without any preparation for the wild, such as training to learn to swim straight, hunt and use their sonar.
The Jakarta Animal Aid Network says plans to release the mammals directly into the sea also contravened a memorandum of understanding it had with the government to provide proper rehabilitation.
US dolphin activist Ric O’Barry, who was featured in the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove”, said Indonesia would attract a lot of negative international publicity if it went ahead with its release plans.
“This is an opportunity for Indonesia to send a message to the rest of the world about how much it cares for nature,” O’Barry was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe website.
He said the dolphins would be in “great danger” if they were sent back into the wild without any preparation.
“They need to rebuild muscle strength, become accustomed to swimming in tides and currents and learn how to hunt live food again,” he said.
Indonesia has done the right thing by banning the illegal capture of dolphins, but appears to be unaware of the international concern for the fate of captive dolphins, he added.
“This is a huge opportunity for positive publicity for Indonesia. I would hate to see them blow it,” he said.
Government officials could not immediately be contacted for comment.
The Jakarta Globe said there were about 50 dolphins illegally held in captivity in Indonesia.