Malaysia: Wildlife dept probing seven gutted carcasses near Pulau Mabul

ruben sario The Star 2 Oct 17;

KOTA KINABALU: More turtle carcasses have been discovered in Sabah’s east coast.

Facebook user Ridwan Abdul Razak shared photos of the seven dead turtles he found floating in the waters near Pulau Mabul at about 11.20pm on Saturday.

They were similar to those found near Pulau Bum Bum in Semporna earlier last week, with their flesh and plastron (lower shell) harvested.

“Hopefully the authorities will take action,” Ridwan wrote.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said an investigation team was immediately dispatched to the island when they were alerted about the carcasses yesterday morning.

“We are trying to ascertain whe­ther the turtles were killed there or whether the carcasses had drifted from another location,” he said.

Augustine said their investigations also focused on tracking down the buyers of the turtle meat and plastron, which are said to be ingredients for traditional medicine.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Envi­ronment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the state was looking at tightening existing wildlife laws so that those suspected of killing protected species would have to prove themselves innocent instead of the other way round.

He said it was not easy for prosecutors to find substantial evidence to prove that the suspect had killed an endangered animal.

Among the obstacles they faced was getting reliable witnesses, he added.

Masidi’s comments followed the recent killings of two bull pgymy elephants in Kalabakan and Kinaba­tangan, and at least nine endangered green turtles near Pulau Bum Bum.

About 100 turtle skeletons were also found on the island recently.

The killing of the green turtles had caught the attention of Sea Shepherd founder Capt Paul Watson, who offered a reward of US$5,000 (RM21,000) for information on the culprits.

Writing on his Facebook page, Capt Watson, who is also the CEO of the US-based non-profit marine wildlife conservation organisation, described those killing the turtles as monsters and said there was no justification for such savagery.

He urged those with information on the turtle poachers to contact the Sabah Wildlife Department.

More turtle carcasses found floating at sea, this time near Mabul island
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 1 Oct 17;

SEMPORNA: Another seven turtle carcasses, with their stomach exposed, were found floating in waters near the popular Mabul island, last night.

The 10pm discovery was made by a group of islanders, who pulled the carcasses to a secluded area away from a resort to avoid drawing attention.

All the carcasses were found tied together and believed to have drifted to the Mabul waters.

The shocking discovery was streamed on Facebook Live by a user Joe Strazz. The footage showed a group of men on a boat inspecting and pulling the carcasses, while expressing their dismay over the incident.

The turtle carcasses was found floating at sea near the Mabul island. Pic courtesy of NST reader.
Based on the conversation on the boat, the turtles were spotted stuck to the pillar of Billabong Scuba Homestay’s jetty. The group also counted the seven carcasses, noting there was another that slipped away.

“We are trying to bring these carcasses away from the island so they will not get stuck at the stilt houses and resorts (on Mabul). We are not sure what to do with these, but we are just pulling them towards the open sea.

“We are going to mark the area and will survey other sites to see if there are any more carcasses. The turtles are spotted by one of the tourists, who immediately informed us,” said the videographer to his audience.

At one point he mentioned the presence of police, noting they were not supposed to go to the sea as it was curfew hour and that they had not reported the findings to the authority.

Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the department was alerted of the incident this morning.

“We have sent a wildlife team to the island to retrieve the carcasses and conduct an investigation. I have also instructed all district wildlife offices to conduct massive operations against turtle poaching,” he said.

Early this week, the wildlife team had also responded to a viralled photo of eight mutilated turtle carcasses on Pulau Bum Bum off Semporna.

Upon arriving at the site on Thursday, the team only found one carcass while others were believed to have been washed away.

The team, however, made a shocking discovery when they spotted 100 bones from dead sea turtle carcasses scattered in the bushes near Kampung Pantau-Pantau, Kampung Amboh-Amboh and Kampung Sampolan on the island.

Tuuga had said initial investigations reveal the turtles may have been poached by the Bajau Laut or Pala’u community, sea gypsies who roam the seas, as they have been seen in the areas previously.