Agreement Strengthens Turtle Conservation Work in Semporna
The agreement is a significant step towards the protection of the four marine turtle species in Malaysia, especially the endangered Green turtle and critically-endangered Hawksbill turtle which are predominantly found in the northeast islands of Semporna, specifically at Mataking and Pom-Pom Islands.
Under the agreement, the three organizations are responsible to ensure that the hatcheries are regulated and well-operated, and that the nests will be relocated to the hatchery should there be threats such as poaching, natural predators and erosion of nesting. Data will also be compiled and shared on quarterly basis for further improvements of turtle population management in the area.
The agreement also looks into the implementation of ‘in situ’, which means natural incubation of nests to increase hatching rates and balance sex ratio of population.
The signing, which culminated years of work that was initiated by WWF-Malaysia, was held at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, in conjunction with World Animal Day and SWD’s 50th anniversary celebration. The national conservation organization played a key role in facilitating the need for collaboration among parties for the protection of turtles in the area.
Between June 2006 and December 2012, a total of 785 Green and 171 Hawksbill turtle nests were documented in the northeast islands of Semporna based on monitoring surveys and interviews with local communities conducted by WWF-Malaysia, Sabah Wildlife Department and resort operators. The activities also provided a baseline for further researches.
“Today is a momentous day. Marine turtles have long been the flagship species for marine conservation in Malaysia, and today is the dawn of a new era of private-public partnership in Malaysian marine conservation. This joint effort means long-term protection of suitable nesting and foraging grounds for sea turtles around Semporna, and a great example of how sustainable tourism can contribute to conservation,” said WWF-Malaysia’s Head of Marine, Carol Phua.
In September 2012, as a mid-term measure, a turtle management body was formed, comprising members from all the three organizations. The body, led by SWD, acts as a platform for stakeholders to collaboratively manage sea turtles in Semporna.
SWD is the government agency responsible for sea turtles in Sabah under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997; The Reef Dive Resort and Tours manages Mataking Island, while Sipadan Pom-Pom Island Resort and Tours manages Pom-Pom Island of Semporna Priority Conservation Area (PCA).
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For more information:
Alexa Antal, Communications Manager, WWF-Malaysia (Sabah Office)
Tel: +6088-262420 Email: email@example.com
Yeoh Lin Lin, Head of Communications, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: +603-78033772 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org