SANDAKAN: The Executive Committee of FOSTER (Friends Of Sea Turtles Education & Research) together with 40 student from SK Libaran successfully released the 30,000th baby turtle from Libaran Island yesterday.
The students later verbally pledged they would help protect the environment by not throwing rubbish around.
As part of a turtle conservation program made available through the subsequent signing of a 5-year duration Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sabah Wildlife Department in July 2013, FOSTER was involved in the setting up of a turtle hatchery on Libaran island in 2012.
The program includes creating awareness for the locals and visitors on the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding the Libaran Island area and to make available research programs on sea turtle for international and local students.
Since January 1, 2013 till January 31, 2018, the turtle hatchery on Libaran has collected 22,786 Green Turtle eggs and 10,090 Hawksbill Turtle eggs (totaling 32,876). A baby turtle usually requires 45-65 days to hatch from an egg. Not all will survive the incubation period.
And on March 1, this year the hatchery celebrates the release of its 30,000th baby turtle from the shore of Libaran island.
“We have in fact started the hatchery program at the end of 2011 and have been releasing baby turtles since then. But for this special release, we started to calculate from the year we signed the MOU with the Sabah Wildlife Department,” said Alexander Yee, the president of FOSTER and the managing director of Walai Penyu Conservation Park.
“It has been a very challenging five years for us and for a while, we thought we won’t make it, so we are glad to have achieved this milestone.”
“Now that we have crossed this milestone, and the MOU with Sabah Wildlife Department will be due at the end of June 2018, we will wait to see if the department wants us to continue with this collaboration,” he said
During the 30,000th baby turtle release, 40 students from SK Pulau Libaran were invited to tour the hatchery and were given a talk on the turtle protection program by Alexander, who is also a trained Honorary Wildlife Warden.
The students then joined the villagers of the Community Beach Cleaning program to clean 200 m of the beach shore line of Libaran Island.
This Community Beach Cleaning Program was started four years ago whereby sponsors pay the villagers to clean the beach shoreline of Libaran Island daily.
“A clean shore line ensures healthier villagers and the turtles will find it easier to come ashore to lay their eggs.”
Also joining in the release were the Jawatankuasa Keselamatan Kemajuan Kampung (JKKK) of Libaran, Encik Anduto bin Sangkok, Richard Jaikim, Wildlife Officer of the Sandakan Wildlife Office of Sabah Wildlife Department, Jikoh bin Unggun, headmaster of SK Libaran, executive members of FOSTER, staff of Walai Penyu Conservation Park and many villagers.
Special guests on the release were Ahmad Izham Khairuddin and his son, young Iszuddin Ahmad Izham, a very conservation minded boy. They both flew in from Kuala Lumpur. Young Iszuddin, after reading on the work of Walai Penyu Conservation Park decided to bake cookies and sell them during the weekend to raise funds for the Community Beach Cleaning.
During the Release, he has also presented Alexander with 30 copies of his cook book. “Kitchen With Iszuddin”. It is a 20-page recipe book that has 11 of Iszuddin’s favourite recipes from cookies and bread to dessert.
Iszuddin took about a week to complie all the contents which include some facts about the ocean and two colouring pages. These books are now available for sale on the Facebook page of Walai Penyu Conservation Center. All proceeds will be used towards the operation of the turtle hatchery of Libaran Island.
“I am happy that FOSTER has reached this milestone and it is my wish that they will carry on their work on Libaran Island and continue to involve the school kids,” said Jikoh.
For anyone interested to make a difference by bringing back our clean beach, you can email to [email protected]