Loggerhead Turtle Netsuke, by Makotikoti Zikhali
Born out of a compelling need to save endangered loggerhead turtles on South Africa’s east coast, these little turtles fit into the palm of your hand lightly, sweetly.
The story behind these turtles is compelling: Makotikoti Zikhali was serving a five-year jail sentence for killing a protected loggerhead turtle in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, when the newly established Roving Reporters project went in search of the bigger story – not just the conviction, but what was leading to the butchering of the turtles in the first place.
The young journalists, all students at Durban University of Technology, uncovered a tale of grinding poverty and ignorance. Makotikoti had killed the turtle to sell its meat as food and its fat for muthi, traditional medicine.
After meeting Makotikoti in prison, Roving Reporters director Fred Kockott was convinced that ‘The Turtle Butcher’ case, as it became known, could be used not only to promote environmental education but also to offer the convicted turtle poacher the means to earn an honest living by writing his life story and developing his artistic skills. Internationally acclaimed Durban sculptor Andries Botha agreed to train Makotikoti, and so the artworks were born.
These turtle netsukes, also known as the Zingela Ulwazi Unlimited Edition are part of the Makotikoti collection, which also contains magnificent larger MK1 Limited Edition turtles, which are pictured at the top of the page.