WWF-Malaysia dismayed by death of 19 more turtles
Kota Kinabalu: WWF-Malaysia is extremely concerned with the senseless loss of 19 more turtles. Monitoring and enforcement should have been in place to prevent turtle poaching after the last incident in March 2014, whereby 60 slaughtered turtles were discovered also on Pulau Tiga, in the proposed Tun Mustapha Park, Sabah.
“Nineteen turtles killed is indeed a tragedy. Even one dead turtle is dismaying. Implementation of an Action Plan identified after last year’s incidence on Pulau Tiga should have prevented these further killings,” says Robecca Jumin, WWF-Malaysia Deputy Head of Marine Programme.
“The latest information was collected by local community representatives from the proposed TMP and they continue to provide useful information that led to the discovery of the 19 dead turtles on March 5.”
WWF-Malaysia believes that in order for the communities’ role as informant to be highly effective, a true collaboration between relevant enforcement agencies and local communities is needed. The government agencies must play significant pro-active roles to prevent turtle poaching from recurring. We believe that the local communities will continue to play their role and provide credible information as they depend on waters surrounding them for their livelihood.
Occurrence of turtle poaching and killings is getting rampant in Sabah. Prior to the sixty turtles found in the same area last year, anecdotal reports from community members indicated that poaching activities were happening in the proposed TMP. Similar killings of turtle also happen elsewhere in Sabah. Four turtles were found killed in Semporna in April 2014.
We urge a step-up in enforcement work to prevent further killings of our turtles. We also urge the gazettement of TMP and propose a sub-station to be established on Pulau Tiga, which is a strategic location for enforcement, as it is now proven to be a hotspot for turtle poaching activities.
Currently, WWF-Malaysia is supporting efforts by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) to tackle transboundary poaching of marine turtles. A Malaysia-Philippine Law Enforcement Dialogue co-hosted by SWD and WWF-Malaysia is being planned for 24 March 2015, with the intention to develop concrete anti turtle-poaching steps with relevant law enforcement agencies from both countries. This was mooted after similar killings of turtles in Semporna last year.
However, activities should not be limited to this alone. We call on our government to view this as an international issue and take the leadership to address turtle poaching through various platforms, including the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Threatened, Charismatic and Migratory Species Sub-group, and the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF), in which Malaysia chairs the Regional Technical Working Group for Endangered Species.
Closer to home, WWF-Malaysia hopes that the proposed TMP will be gazetted soon. “The gazettement of TMP will conserve its biodiversity and ensure that the rich marine resources are used in a sustainable manner – which is achievable through collaborative management among local and neighbouring enforcement agencies, traditional and commercial fishers, and direct and indirect resource users who depend upon the continuous existence of these resources for survival,” says Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma, WWF-Malaysia Executive Director/CEO.