Sabahans can consider themselves lucky for being able to witness turtles landing on their shores because of the Government’s effort to gazette some of its islands, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Assistant Minister, Datuk Elron Alfred Angin.
He said following the coming into force of the 1984 Parks Enactment, the numbers have shown a slight increase despite a significant drop of turtle sighting worldwide.
“Turtle hatching can be seen almost every night on our islands,” he said during the launching of the Sabah Parks Turtle Conservation campaign here Saturday. The campaign will end on Dec. 15. “During the peak season the number of turtles landing on our shores can be 30-50,” he added.
Under the enactment, turtles can find sanctuary at the Turtle Islands, Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Tiga Park and Pulau Sipadan.
The others are the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Areas (SIMCA), which include Langkayan in Sandakan.
“To further better managed turtle conservation the construction of Sabah’s first hatchery were completed in 1966 at Pulau Selingan,” said Elron.
In his speech, Elron said during the observation conducted in 1979 until 2010 a total of 218, 305 turtle nests were recorded with hatchlings born inside the parks.
During the same period 13.07 million hatchlings were released back into the ocean. He also said since the 1970s up to 2010 a total of 54,904 turtles had been tagged.
“It’s an interesting phenomenon that these ancient animals could swim thousands of kilometres just to return to the place they were hatched,” he said.
Apart from the Ministry’s effort, Sabah Parks, Sabah Wildlife Department, Environmental Department, WWF and NGOs also played a vital role on turtle conservation works.
According to the Sabah Parks Director, Paul Basintal people are largely unaware that turtles were a protected species and that works on their conservation started in 1977.
And the aim of campaign is to raise the awareness of the public on the such efforts by the government, its departments, agencies and NGOs.
“This campaign is aimed at announcing to the public these initiatives and to allow an effective community involvement towards such initiatives,” said Basintal.
“Sabah Parks have been given the mandate to do the conservation works since the 70s. “The work requires a full time commitment regardless of public holidays,” he added.
Basintal also complimented the efforts of Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Environmental Department, UMS and WWF which had been doing their own bit in turtle conservation.
The said agencies also set up their own booths during the campaign.
This is the second time Sabah Parks had organised the campaign with the first one being at Lahad Datu in 2008.
Worldwide, 25 species of turtles are currently considered likely to become extinct and have reached conservation status.
In Sabah possession and selling of sea turtle eggs and goods are offences punishable under the 1984 enactment.
Source: Daily Express