The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has confirmed that they received a report of numerous slaughtered turtles being found on the beach of Laamu atoll Gan, a week ago, but said that no suspects have been identified yet.
The carcasses of two large turtles were found on the beach on the 11th of this month.
EPA Senior Environmental Analyst Enas Mohammed Riaz told Mihaaru news that the agency is currently investigating the matter. However, he said they still don't have enough information to conduct a proper investigation.
"With so little information, we cannot investigate such a case. Neither us nor the police know who the suspects are," he said.
"However, we will be logging this case. This information will be maintained in our database. The purpose is to identify areas where protected animals are poached and patrol them in collaboration with the police, as cases like these are unfortunately very common.''
Inan Ahmed, a sea turtle ranger and community officer hired by the Olive Ridley Project (ORP), a non-government organization that works to protect sea turtles, and the EPA, was the first person to receive the information about the slain turtles being found in Laamu atoll.
In a Facebook post, ORP said that except for the heads and shells of the two sea turtles, all other parts had been removed.
The association said that sea turtles are considered an endangered species in the Maldives and all over the world. They take 25 to 50 years to reach reproductive age. The number of turtles laying eggs in the Maldives has decreased significantly compared to the 1980s, the post said.
"Collecting turtle eggs and consumption of their meat are the main reasons for the decline in the country's sea turtle population," the association stated.
The agency urges the public to report anyone who has killed or is trying to kill sea turtles to the EPA's hotline number, 7980379.
It was reported that a group of people had poached and cooked turtles last month in Keyodhoo, an uninhabited island in Baa Atoll. According to the EPA, a group of five people from B. Kendhoo were involved.
The group had killed six sea turtles. The police took the statements of the accused and released them. The progress of this case is unclear.
Since April 4, 2016, all species of turtles have been protected under the Maldives Environmental Protection and Conservation Act. Catching and abusing any species of turtle in the Maldives is prohibited. Although it is a crime punishable by a heavy fine, there are still occasional cases of people being caught for poaching.