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Malaysia’s largest marine park holds first island-based Marine Turtle Festival

KUDAT: The first island-based Marine Turtle Festival within largest marine park in Malaysia, Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) was recently organised by Tigabu Youth Club (Kelab Belia Tigabu – KBT) and WWF-Malaysia.

TMP is located within Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu districts in northern Sabah.

TMP is a global symbol of how we can collectively commit to serving nature and humanity, benefiting both the environment and local communities. The area has rich marine biodiversity and is home to elusive dugongs and endangered marine turtles as well as other regular visitors such as migratory whales.

Diverse habitats ranging from mangroves, seagrass beds to coral reefs contribute to the rich marine biodiversity. This in turn provides food security for not only 85,000 inhabitants dependent upon it, but also the more than 120 million people in the Coral Triangle region.

Tigabu Island hosted the festival this month to highlight turtle conservation work being done in the Tigabu-Tambulian-Kukuban Island complex.

The first island-based turtle hatchery was launched on Tigabu in TMP to raise awareness on turtle conservation and threats such as fish bombing and use of poisons like cyanide.

Officiating at the launch, Banggi Island assemblyman Datuk Mijul Unaini praised KBT and youths for taking the initiative to conserve marine turtles.

Meanwhile, KBT member Absan Saman said he wanted one of the world’s most endangered creatures to continue to thrive around Tigabu and TMP.

Agreeing with this, KBT chairman Sulaiman Amir invited the community of Tigabu to work together to protect marine turtles for future generations. The Tigabu-Tambulian-Kukuban Island complex includes the three named islands and Mantabuan Island.

KBT identified these areas as turtle nesting sites back in April 2017, and supported recommendations for the TMP Management Plan. KBT works with Sabah Parks for the protection of these turtle nesting islands and their surroundings, and work to combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, including bomb fishing.

KBT takes on the role of collaborative manager to protect habitats in TMP under the WWF-Malaysia Marine Programme.

WWF-Malaysia Kudat team leader Joannie Jomitol said support from Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and Sabah Parks together with WWF-Malaysia’s continuous engagement with the Tigabu community enable KBT members trained as Honorary Wildlife Wardens and Park Rangers to start land-based turtle conservation activities.

“They patrol and monitor turtle nesting beaches at Tigabu-Tambulian-Kukuban Islands complex and set up a turtle hatchery on Tigabu Island.”

From April to September 2017, some 15 turtle nests have been relocated from the islands to the hatchery; 14 of the nests have hatched and hatchlings were released. The two types of turtles nesting there are Green turtles (770 eggs) and Hawksbill turtles (315 eggs).

Melvin Richard from SWD and park manager from Sabah Parks, Fazrullah Rizally Abdul Razak were touched to see the Tigabu community come together to protect and conserve turtles.

Their effort was supported by the Village Development and Security Committee chairman Jasni Matoha who wanted to see marine turtles protected in the area.  The TMP is a vast area, and community assistance for enforcement agencies is needed to sustain the biodiversity and marine resources at the park.

It is hoped that this festival and turtle conservation activities will spark awareness among the communities of TMP of the importance of taking care of the marine environment and natural resources around them.

Source : Borneo Post

FOSTER maps out plans for sea turtles conservation

SANDAKAN: The Executive Committee of Friends of Sea Turtles Education & Research (FOSTER) gathered on Tuesday for their general meeting to map out plans for the 4th quarter of 2017 and the 1st quarter of 2018.

FOSTER is a part of a turtle conservation programme made available after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sabah Wildlife Department in July 2013 after its involvement in the setting up of a turtle hatchery on Libaran Island in 2012.

The programme includes creating awareness for the locals and visitors on the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding the Libaran Island area and to make available research programmes on sea turtles for international and local students.

From 2012 until July 2017, the hatchery had collected 26,672 Green turtle eggs and 10,598 Hawksbill turtle eggs.  Of these, 21,196 baby Green turtles and 7,474 baby Hawksbill turtles were successfully released into the ocean.

During the meeting, the committee made an evaluation of the programmes undertaken by FOSTER, such as community beach cleaning and dialogues with villagers at Libaran Island.

FOSTER is also working on a book on the turtle programme on Libaran which will be published by the first quarter of 2018. The book will record experiences on the island and will contain scientific data on sea turtle landings.

Seeing more work ahead, FOSTER will be contacting Sabah Wildlife Department to discuss on training more Honorary Wildlife Wardens to handle some of the anticipated work.

The tasks of these wardens will include patrolling the streets of Sandakan for illegal turtle eggs seller and turtle protection work on Libaran Island.

The discussion ended with the committee members having an afternoon tea at the newly opened Mango Garden Restaurant in Sepilok. Readers who are looking for further information could contact the president of FOSTER, Alexander Yee via email at forsterseaturtle@gmail.com.

Source: The Borneo Post

Champ the green turtle returns to sea after 3-months in rehab

The endangered turtle, nicknamed Champ, is the third rescued turtle to be fitted with a satellite prior to being released on July 29.

The satellite tagging was done under the collaboration between Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Marine Research Foundation, and Scuba Junkie.

Champ was rescued on May 7 near Pom Pom Island Resort off Semporna and was placed at the Scuba Junkie’s Mabul Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

SWD’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez said the animal was found stuck in a fishing line, which has entangled its left flipper.

“The entangled line had caused complete loss of the flipper. We sent a team to the island to perform emergency amputation of the protruding bone and provide supportive treatment before it gets further infected.

“Our veterinarians also trained the staff on the island to do daily cleaning of the wound following the surgery,” she said, adding that the department supervised its progress.

At the rehabilitation centre, Ramirez said Champ was placed in a bigger tank to observe his ability to adapt in deeper waters and strong current.

After 12 weeks of rehabilitation treatment, veterinarians decided it was ready for release despite having only a single front flipper.

“We were gradually testing Champ’s movement and swimming skills until we saw it was completely comfortable in deeper waters. So, after observations and discussion with experts, we believe Champ will survive.

“Champ’s situation is the first amputation case and it is not common. However, this is not the first time we have issues with (fishing) nets,” stressed Ramirez.

Human fishing gear, she said represents the single greatest threat to sea turtle worldwide.

A marine biologist at the Mabul Turtle Rehabilitation Centre Cat Cassidy added turtles are particularly affected as they need to surface for breathing.

“Entanglement can prevent them from doing so and this will eventually lead to drowning,” she said.

In May, two green turtles were rescued in a weak state and were tended by the WRU personnel. The turtles were put under close observation at the rehabilitation centre before they were tagged and released on June 24.

Source: New Straits Times