As many as 900 dolphins have been slaughtered by villagers in the Solomon Islands, allegedly due to a dispute with the conservation group Earth Island Institute.
Accounts from the Islanders suggest the villagers were expecting payment from the conservation group to stop their traditional hunt. The check never arrived, resulting in a hunt more fervid than usual. The Earth Island Institute alleges the slaughter was the work of a "renegade group," according to U.K. newspaper The Guardian.
According to Radio Australia, villagers from Fanalei, on the island of Malaita, had been in negotiations with the California-based conservation group for two years. They accused the Earth Island Institute of failing to pay the agreed upon $400,000 to halt their traditional hunt. Villagers claim they received only one third of the promised payment before funds dried up.
As a result, the disillusioned villagers went back to hunting, according to Fanalei community leader Atkin Fakaia.
The Solomon Islands are well known as a hot bed for dolphin hunting. The Islands supply wildlife to aquariums in China and Dubai, where a live dolphin can go for upwards of $150,000. Earth Island Institute hoped to preserve the dolphin population by offering restitution for not hunting.
"We are very, very disappointed," David Phillips, who oversees international dolphin protection efforts for the conservation group, told The Guardian. "This is a tragedy. It's bad for dolphins. It's bad for the community. It's bad for the Solomon Islands as a nation to have this blot on the record."