Postcard - Blog post / Banyuwagi, Java, Marta & Alex
I had planned to look into the topic as a Postcard, but there is so much more to write that the format did not seem to be the right one anymore. I decided then to turn an insta-story into a regular blogpost and share ideas but also, hopefully, collect your feedback.
Marta and Alex continue their roadtrip through Indonesia with a stop in Banyuwagi, Java.
Visiting the Pantai Cemara Sea Turtle Foundation and sanctuary was one of their excursion, and it was an interesting eye-opener for them as well as for me.
The turtles they have seen in the center, presented as a conservation and educational project, have been living in very small bassins, with the opportunity for visitors and tourists to buy their freedom back and free them in the ocean in a process which can be very emotionally-depicted.
The Foundation's purpose is stated clearly on its website:
"Assist the government in efforts to conserve natural resources and environment, especially to rescue the sea turtle as wildlife which is protected by Indonesian law.
Provide education through guidance and counseling to public and students to realize that even though sea turtles have important role in the chain of natural ecosystems, they are an endangered species and threatened by extinction. Therefore, the sea turtles are protected by law.
To make Banyuwangi as a rescue, observation, education, and research center of sea turtles for Indonesian or foreigner researchers."
I made a quick search and found the article of "fashion, travel and lifestyle bloggers" Maria & Elisabeth (also reporting for E!), who posted about their visit of the Foundation a year ago and obviously experienced and shared the magic of it, the same magic that Marta and Alex did not see in person and therefore questioned rightfully.
Of course we are talking about professional bloggers here: pics are very designed and calculated, the message absolutely positive and full of good emotions and intentions. But the difference between the views is too big to feel right. And with all due respect to the work professional bloggers pull for a living, I tend to naturally believe people I know and who do not market their views for nice hotel stays and a higher number of likes.
One could always question the way this kind of sanctuaries is managed, with a fair share of pros (biodiversity conservation, social and economic support to local communities...) and cons (living conditions of animals, wrong-doings to make money - pics with drugged tigers or elephant back-riding are some tragic examples of very popular touristic activities).
My personal experience of such sanctuaries is however, honestly, very limited. We have always tried to avoid visiting zoos and instead favour natural reserves, and I have been donating to other cases than animal-related ones due to my general lack of understanding of the local context for both the animals and people working there.
So I keep this one open, hoping that some of our readers will provide some facts, opinions, objective input on the topic:
Can we trust such foundations who combine education and conservation with questionable living conditions for the animals they are supposed to take care of?
In any case, I strongly advise you follow Marta & Alex's Instagram account, not to boost their number of followers, but to look into the real side of tourism in some regions of the world.
Instagramers or influencers will be happy (or paid) to only show beautiful sunsets on the beach, happiness on a selfie-stick, and paradise-like hotel views. These two on the other hand are sharing what they see and experience without filters, for instance how dirty with waste roads the went through are, or how tough the working conditions in sulphur mines can be. This is why it's been great having them as contributors for OUTSIDE THE BOX.
Pic/Courtesy of Gravella's Adventures insta story