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

Borneo Post 12 Oct 17;

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.


Turtle fest offers fun learning experience
The Star 14 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Learning about environmental conservation can be exciting if it is presented creatively.

To get people, especially the youth, to learn more about marine and environmental conservation, a turtle festival was held for the first time on an island within Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), Malaysia’s largest marine sanctuary.

The festival on Tigabu Island organised by the Tigabu Youth Club (KBT) together with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia involved the TMP within Sabah’s northern Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu districts.

This festival followed recent cases of turtle slaughters in Semporna.

“The area boasts a rich marine biodiversity and is home to elusive dugongs and endangered marine turtles as well as other regular visitors such as the migratory whales,” she said.

She added that diverse habitats ranging from mangroves to seagrass beds and coral reefs contributed to the rich marine biodiversity, which in turn, provided food security for not only 85,000 inhabitants, but also more than 120 million people in the Coral Triangle region.

Chung said Tigabu Island hosted the festival to highlight turtle conservation operations in the Tigabu-Tambulian-Kukuban Island Complex.

Pulau Banggi assemblyman Datuk Mijul Unaini, who launched the event, praised the youth club and youths for taking the initiative to learn about conserving turtles.

KBT invited the community of Tigabu to work together to protect marine turtles for future generations.

Club member Absan Saman said his main motivation in taking part in the programme was to defend one of the world’s most endangered animals from extinction and to conserve the species so that they continued to thrive in Tigabu and TMP.

The Tigabu-Tambulian-Kukuban Island Complex includes the three named islands as well as Mantabuan Island.

In April, KBT identified these areas as turtle nesting sites and supported recommendations for the TMP Management Plan.

These volunteers work with Sabah Parks to protect these turtle nesting islands and their surroundings, as well as combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, including bomb fishing.

Chung said active community participation in assisting enforcement agencies was needed to sustain the rich biodiversity and marine resources of a vast area such as the TMP.

“It is hoped that this festival and turtle conservation activities will spark a sense of awareness and pride among the communities of TMP in taking care of their marine environment and natural resources,” she said.

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