Malaysia: Community is key to turtle conservation

The Star 3 Jul 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Their flippers flailing, some 100 green turtle hatchlings made their way to the sea where they will spend a large part of their life.

The Kudat Turtle Conservation Society released these hatchlings Saturday, witnessed by around 200 tourists and villagers from Kg Bavang Jamal.

Project coordinator Norfazilah Rahman said the event was part of its efforts to save the turtles.

“In 2012, there were many turtles coming to shore to lay their eggs. But then, we noticed that the numbers were dwindling due to human activities, such as hunting and egg consumption. So, we decided to come together to save the turtles,” she said.

Norfazilah said although there was still much to be done to restore the number of turtles coming to nest and to increase the hatching rate, the society was confident that its efforts were on the right track.

“We have released about 4,500 hatchlings since our inception,” said Norfazilah, adding that its staff also carried out nightly patrols along the beach from Pantai Kelambu to the Tip of Borneo (also known as Tanjung Simpang Mengayau) to look for turtle landings.

The society, she said, was also educating villagers and fishermen on the importance of turtle conservation.

“We have seen a significant change in the attitudes and awareness of the local community in Kudat but we still have a long way to go to achieve our goals.

“The villagers will now also alert our members if they know of any turtle landing so that we can take care of the eggs until they hatch,” she said.

The long-term objective of the society is to set up 50 community-managed turtle conservation areas within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.

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