Thursday, June 20

SFC: More than RM100,000 needed for turtle conservation’

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LUNDU:  Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) needs more than RM100, 000 a year to manage the conservation of turtles on Pulau Talang Talang Besar.

This was revealed by SFC’s deputy general manager (Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation Division) Oswald Braken Tisen when met on the island during the inaugural visit by one of Asia’s biggest film stars Datuk Seri Michelle Yeoh yesterday.

“The expenditure is hardly enough and we hope that other sources of fund can assist us in our conservation effort to ensure that the turtles which lay eggs here can be better managed,” he lamented.

He pointed out that Yeoh and her family members’ effort in joining the ‘Turtle Adoption Programme’ was an exemplary example of how every one can help SFC in a small way as such contributions can allow continuous conservation and protection of turtles.

Braken pointed out that human were the biggest obstacle to their conservation effort especially for the island.

There should be more awareness and educational programmes to let people know how they can help to save this marine life which is now totally protected.

He said in the 1950’s, records showed that turtles produced 3,000,000 eggs a year on the island but now their record showed there were only about 300,000 eggs. Due to the drop by almost 90 per cent, all unique species of turtles coming to the island had been listed as totally protected.

Braken in his brief presentation earlier on, warned that turtles could accidentally ingest plastic bags mistaking them for jellyfish and the bags could block their stomachs, often leading to their death from starvation.

“More than 100 turtles die in a year due to infringement of fishing trawlers into the protected island prior to 1998. But now with reef balls being placed, there are about 10 reported deaths a year,” he said.

“Human beings are the biggest culprit apart from illegal fishing, in contributing to the destruction of marine habitat. Reports from post mortem of dead turtles found plastic bags,” he added.

“With better reef balls sitting on the sea floor, marine habitat are allowed to flourish as there are sustainable food source for all sorts of marine life including sea turtles and erosion is prevented,” he explained adding that they also prevented fishing trawlers from carrying out illegal activities in the area.

Braken pointed out that Sarawak is the first in the world to use reef balls in turtle conservation.

He assured that SFC is committed in their conservation works and protection of marine and wildlife and hoped the public could do their part in supporting their efforts.