Malaysia: Getting tough on turtle egg smugglers

The Star 6 Sep 16;

SANDAKAN: Firm enforcement against turtle egg smugglers by security forces in east coast Sabah would help in conserving the animals.

Friends Of Sea Turtle Education and Research (Foster) vice-chairman James Leong said moves to prevent turtle eggs from being smuggled into Sabah from southern Philippines was necessary to ensure the survival of the species.

“The success of Sabah Marine Police will help ensure the effectiveness of conservation efforts carried out by the state government through the state Wildlife Department and NGOs,” Leong said in a statement.

Late last week, marine police confiscated 9,900 turtle eggs estimated to be worth RM20,500 and arrested 10 illegal immigrants during a two-day special operation in waters off Sandakan.

This came following an earlier success on July 16 this year when marine police seized 19,000 turtle eggs worth RM30,400 and arrested 11 foreigners in Sandakan waters.

Meanwhile, Leong said that the Taman Hadiah Hatchery on Pulau Libaran has been set up following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Trekkers Lodge Sdn Bhd managing director Alexander Yee with the Sabah Wildlife Department in 2013.

The MOU was aimed at creating awareness among locals and visitors on conserving sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding Libaran Island and to make available research programmes on sea turtles for international and local students.

Foster was set up by Yee, who is also its president.

Turtle landings on the island have seen a marked increase and from November 2011 till January 2015, 25,939 baby turtles have been released into the ocean from Taman Hadiah, of which 16,406 were Green Turtles and 9,533, Hawskbill Turtles, said Leong.

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