Indonesia: Managed turtle breeding helps maintain wild population

Ruslan Sangadji The Jakarta Post 3 Aug 16;

With an output of about 10,000 baby turtles a year, the breeding of green turtles in the regency of Tolitoli in Central Sulawesi is seen as a promising move to maintain the population, said a local officer.

“In the near future, we will release some 100 of the baby turtles to the sea,” Tolitoli Fisheries and Maritime Agency head Hardiyan said on Monday.

He said the breeding of the green turtles in the regency was conducted in cooperation with locals people over awareness that the population of the reptiles was continuing to decrease over time because of illegal hunting.

He said his office had allocated some Rp 32 million this year to empower the people of Sese village, North Dampal district, Tolitoli, to breed green turtles.

The funds, he said, came from the state budget of the Coastal and Marine Resource Management Center and were handed over to the local community group that was given full authority to disburse them.

“The budget was for the maintenance of the green turtle population in the village,” Hardiyan said.

There are currently four regions in the regency that have been breeding green turtles. The other three are Galumpang village in Dakopemean district, Lingayan Island and Ogotua village in North Dampal district.

The green turtle breeding on Lingayan Island, one of the outmost islands in Tolitoli, was conducted because its population of the protected animals was declining and neared extinction because of extensive illegal hunting.

“The turtles are caught for trade,” said Bachtiar, chairman of Lingayan Environment Lovers.

He said the hunting of green turtles was extensive in the regions because both their eggs and meat could be sold for high prices. He predicted that between five and seven turtles were killed every month for that purpose.

He said during the seasons when green turtles laid eggs on beaches, people usually got ready on shore to wait for the reptiles.

“They usually use fishing rods with special hooks to catch the turtles,” he said.

Other turtle species that have been hunted because of their high economic value included the hawksbill sea turtles on one of Tolitoli’s outermost islands. They are hunted for their eggs, meat and scales.

“My prediction, the perpetrators [will be found to have] come from Kalimantan and Donggala regency,” he said.

Hendro, a naval officer at the Tolitoli Naval Base, said he often found green turtles traded openly. “Two months ago we seized four green turtles from a broker here,” he said.

Lingayan Island directly borders with Malaysia. With 64 families living on it, the island has been in the list of underdeveloped subdistricts despite its rich potential.

Apart from turtles, Lingayan is also the habitat of a bird species resembling the maleo, which locals call the molong. The bird is black and is as big as a maleo. It is currently estimated to only have about 50 left in its population.

The breeding of the green turtles in Tolitoli regency, Central Sulawesi, has shown a promising yield, currently producing more than 10,000 baby turtles a year, a local officer said.

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