Dessy Sagita & Made Arya Kencana
The manager of a traveling dolphin show is ignoring accusations made by activists about the alleged theft of two dolphins in Bali who were supposed to be transferred to a rehabilitation center in Central Java.
“Whether or not we have transferred the dolphins is none of their business, if you want to know where the dolphins are please find out yourself,” Ade Kusmana, a representative of dolphin show company Wersut Seguni Indonesia, told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.
Ade complained that the Indonesian media had been portraying him as a criminal while treating Richard O’Barry, a world-renowned dolphin activist, as a hero.
The kidnap allegation started when the Jakarta Animal Aid Network received an anonymous call over the weekend, reporting two dolphins kept inside the Akame restaurant in Denpasar, Bali, had been loaded onto a truck and transferred to Central Java, instead of being transferred to a rehabilitation center as the restaurant promised Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan.
“Our source said the dolphins were loaded onto a truck, covered by a piece of tarpaulin and brought to Gilimanuk Port. We suspected they would be brought back to Central Java, where the dolphin travel show is located,” JAAN co-founder Femke den Haas told the Globe.
“This transport should not have been allowed. The dolphins are heading into a tropical depression with heavy rain and sustained winds up to 40 knots predicted for the next four to five days,” she said.
An Akame staff member who did not want to be named denied the accusation, saying that the dolphins were still in the restaurant.
However, when a Globe reporter visited the restaurant, the pool where the dolphins were kept was empty.
During his trip to Akame restaurant, Zulkifli said he was shocked to learn about traveling dolphin shows, and he declared that he wanted to work with the JAAN to protect dolphins.
“This is very typical, first the minister was very cooperative but now he goes silent, or maybe he still doesn’t know,” Den Haas said.
In 2010, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the JAAN and the Forestry Ministry to protect, save and rehabilitate captured dolphins in Indonesia.
Den Haas alleged that local forestry agency officials prevented the minister being informed of the issue as they were receiving kickbacks from the traveling dolphin shows.
She said the organization was mulling stronger action to protest the alleged theft.
“We could file a report because we signed an MoU, our status is higher than the company that uses the dolphins, I don’t understand why they are lying, saying the dolphins are still at the restaurant,” she said.
Previously, JAAN had said the dolphins will be the first candidates to go to a dolphin rehabilitation center in Karimunjawa National Park, Central Java.