Indonesia: Eggs of rare turtles from Riau traded in Pontianak

Severianus Endi The Jakarta Post 28 Sep 16;

Authorities in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, recently confiscated more than 260 eggs of rare turtles allegedly smuggled from Riau Islands province.

Officials are investigating the case to uncover the suppliers of the turtle eggs.

The case emerged with the confiscation of 139 turtle eggs by officials of the local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) at Dwikora Port, Pontianak.

The West Kalimantan BKSDA head, Sustyo Iriono, said the turtle eggs were seized on Sept. 20 from a woman who said she received them as gifts from relatives on Serasan Island near Tambelan Island, Riau Islands province.

On Saturday, the BKSDA team arrested a 16-year-old suspected of selling turtle eggs on a section of road in Pontianak and seized 125 turtle eggs.

“The teenager said he was told to sell the eggs by his cousin and that the eggs came from Tanjung Pinang, Riau Islands,” Sustyo told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, adding that the eggs were being sold for Rp 2,500 each.

The two suspects so far have been required to sign statements declaring that they would not repeat the offense. Sustyo said the cases would be developed to target suppliers that they suspected were involved in the turtle egg trade network in the city.

West Kalimantan have turtle habitats in various areas, such as the Paloh coast, Sambas regency, where the collection of turtle eggs for consumption is a serious threat to two species in the region.

The 63-kilometer-long Paloh coast is a habitat of green and hawksbills turtles. It is the longest coastline in the country.

The Word Wide Fund (WWF) Indonesia’s West Kalimantan program recorded more than 2,000 green turtle nests a year at Paloh Beach, making it the place with the second-biggest population of turtles along the chain, which spans from the Malay Peninsula to the Sulu Sea, Sulawesi.

A marine biodiversity conservation officer of the WWF Indonesia’s West Kalimantan program, Hendro Susanto, said the monitoring of the turtles continued to collect data on the number of missing or raided turtle nests. The move involves, among other things, former turtle egg collectors.

“Provisional data show that turtle egg hunting continues decreasing thanks to the intensive dissemination of information that the activity is illegal,” Hendro said, adding that one turtle nest could contain up to 100 eggs.

Hendro also said turtles existed in prehistoric days and could live for up to 150 years but only started to lay eggs at 30 to 50 years of age.

The high price and proximity to Malaysia have been blamed for triggering an increase in the illegal trade of turtle eggs to Malaysia. Melano Bay in Sarawak, Malaysia, is only some 10 kilometers from the outmost village in Paloh district.

To help curb turtle egg theft, a number of programs conducted jointly with the community have been introduced, including an annual festival in which information is disseminated during entertainment.

Other programs include encouraging locals to run home industries producing various handmade crafts using turtles as a theme.

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