Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock
The heartbreaking news struck the orca-loving community in early October as reports of an orca pod being slaughtered in Indonesia surfaced. Fishermen in the village of Lamalera on the island of Lembata in Indonesia illegally killed a pod including a male, female, and young calf.
Orcas rely on each other for survival, living in tightly knit family groups, the role of each individual is imperative. These massive creatures travel in groups and create close bonds. That’s why this sad discovery of the orca family is even more tragic.
Indonesians have yet to cultivate orcas into their environment, with sightings of these animals very rare. This disconnection between local fishermen and orcas is putting both parties at risk. Not only do the fishermen have an impact on the population of killer whales, but consuming orca meat, one of the most toxic animals in the ocean, could greatly impact their own health.
The remote village of Lamalera has been exempt from the commercial whale ban put in place in 1986 under the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Lamalera is known as a site for whale hunting, using traditional methods following ancient beliefs and honored age-old taboos in their hunts for whales, manta rays, and dolphins. Some of these methods include the simple use of sailboats and canoes to attack their prey.
As of recent, the villagers have abandoned these tactics and replaced them with motorized boats. This upgrade in technology would suggest that they are now hunting wildlife commercially rather than traditionally for food. In the past, the village has legally been allowed to kill two whales per year, excluding pregnant, mating, or young whales.
Some organizations are looking to persuade the Indonesians to partake in more sustainable economic activities, Ecotourism is a large possibility. The recent slaughtering of the orca pod has brought attention to ancient Indonesian practices, and with further education, hopefully, the villagers will change their attitudes towards keeping wildlife alive.