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Shifting focus: redefining the goals of sea turtle consumption and protection in Bali

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Many would say that the environment and human culture consists of an evolutionary process, complete with necessary adaptations to current situations and the availability of resources. However, religion is usually thought to be a constant, an entity that grounds the individual believer in a "truth" that transcends time. Ultimately, the boundary between culture and religion is especially hard to decipher, particularly in the daily rituals of the Balinese. While religious beliefs are often rooted in history, they too transform through inevitable reinterpretation. The following paper describes the tremendous environmental and cultural impact of the controversial turtle trade in Bali, specifically in regards to the use of turtle in religious ritual.

The majority of Bali practices Hinduism, which (in the Balinese context) fundamentally strives for a life of balance and harmony between man and man (Pawongan), man and god (Parahyangan), and man and the environment (Palemahan)- a concept referred to as the Tri Hita Karana. As one Hindu priest stated, "protecting the environment is logical" and compliments the religious teachings of Bali (I Made Arta Wira Ratha, personal communication, 19 Nov 2009. Tabanan).Yet, Bali's current environmental situation does not coincide with that statement. "As many as 300,000 animal species inhabit the many ecosystems" of the Indonesian archipelago, including more than 4,000 species of fish and 240 species of coral (Moss and Van der Wal 1998; 85). Amazingly, this abundance of biodiversity covers only 1.3% of the world's landmass and ocean territory (, 16 Nov 2009). Unfortunately, the majority of the species are no longer used sparingly for survival and cultural and religious necessity, but rather are exploited in pursuit of economic gain. As a result, Indonesia is home to the greatest number of endangered species in the world, including five of the seven species of sea turtles.


Megan Kendall

Purdue University

Date 2009
Pages 62
Language English
Notes This thesis was found at Digital Collections at School for International Training (SIT):
University Bates College
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal welfare
  2. natural resources
  3. Physical environment
  4. Religions
  5. Social Environments
  6. turtles