Malaysia: Turtles arrive on Terengganu shores for egg-laying season, and so do poachers

New Straits Times 21 Jun 18;

DUNGUN: The turtle egg-laying season has begun on Terengganu’s shores – and with it, the arrival of tourists as well as poachers.

The Fisheries Department is doing its bit to ensure that egg thieves are kept at bay to ensure the survival of the leatherback, green and hawksbill turtles which land on Peninsular Malaysia’s east coast each year.

Over the past seven years, the department’s efforts have borne fruit, with over 3.6 million turtle eggs from nearly 45,000 nests being saved.

Mohammad Firdaus Abdillah, head of the department’s Rantau Abang Turtle Conservation and Information Centre, said that they deploy rangers to ensure the safety of turtles during the egg-laying season between March and October.

“Our rangers regularly patrol the beachfront throughout the state during the egg-laying season.

“And this has helped save thousands of turtles from poachers,” he said, adding that those caught flouting laws were handed to the National Parks and Wildlife Department and other agencies for further action.

Firdaus said that from 2010 to last year, a total of 44,981 egg nests were discovered along the Terengganu coastline, leading to the discovery of 3,682,848 turtle eggs.

“The department managed to successfully hatch 2,753,418 eggs at its hatcheries,” he said.

Firdaus added that the department also relocates eggs to safer areas.

“Apart from this, we carry out enforcement on land and sea, awareness campaigns, and exhibitions at schools at our Turtle Conservation Centre and other public places.

“Additionally, we hold dialogues and appear on television shows (to discuss) turtle conservation initiatives,” he said.

Starting in the 1960s, the state government selected hatching sites in Dungun, Setiu, Kemaman and the islands of Redang, Bidong, Perhentian and Kapas for turtles, owing to their dwindling number each year.

The effort has managed to increase the number of turtle landings for the three main turtle species.

Apart from Rantau Abang, two renowned turtle sanctuaries are situated at Pantai Ma Daerah in Paka and Pantai Teluk Mak Nik in Kemaman.