A local school teacher, Anne Lydia Dandava, helped raise the alarm and a group from her village along the Lavelai Coast set off to rescue the turtle and push it out to sea.
“We beat the poachers. I think there were not too many of them. So they had gone back for reinforcements. And in the interim we rescue … we set the turtle free,” she said.
It's a rare success story in Papua New Guinea, where turtles and their eggs are considered a delicacy and often hunted as food.
For the critically endangered leatherback, the stakes have never been higher.