Tigabu Island in Malaysia’s Largest Marine Park Holds First Island-Based Turtle Festival
TMP is a global symbol of how we can collectively commit to serving nature and humanity, benefiting both the environment and local communities. The area boasts a rich marine biodiversity and is home to elusive dugongs and endangered marine turtles as well as other regular visitors such as the migratory whales. Diverse habitats, ranging from mangroves, seagrass beds to coral reefs, contribute to the rich marine biodiversity. This in turn provides food security for not only 85,000 inhabitants dependent upon it, but also for more than 120 million people in the Coral Triangle region.
Tigabu Island hosted the festival this month with intentions to highlight turtle conservation work being done in the Tigabu-Tambulian-Kukuban Island Complex. The first island-based turtle hatchery was launched on Tigabu in TMP, to raise awareness on turtle conservation and its threats such as fish bombing, bycatch and cyanide use.
Datuk Mijul Hj Unaini, state legislative assembly member (ADUN) of N1 Banggi Island, officiated the launch in which he praised KBT and youths for taking the initiative to conserve marine turtles.
“My main motivation to defend one of the world’s most endangered animals from extinction is to conserve the species so that they continue to thrive around Tigabu and TMP,” says Encik Absan Saman, member of KBT. Supporting this is KBT Chairman, Sulaiman bin Amir, who invites the community of Tigabu to work together to protect marine turtles for future generations.
The Tigabu-Tambulian-Kukuban Island Complex includes the three named islands and Mantabuan Island. KBT identified these areas as turtle nesting sites back in April 2017, and supported recommendations for the TMP Management Plan. KBT works with Sabah Parks for the protection of these turtle nesting islands and their surroundings, and works towards combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, including bomb fishing. KBT takes on the role in collaborative management to protect species habitat – a goal under WWF-Malaysia Marine Programme’s TMP objectives for it to be effectively managed.
WWF-Malaysia Kudat team leader, Ms Joannie Jomitol said, “Strong support from the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and Sabah Parks, together with WWF-Malaysia’s continuous engagement with the Tigabu community, enables KBT members trained as Honorary Wildlife Wardens and Park Rangers to start land-based turtle conservation activities. They patrol and monitor turtle nesting beaches at Tigabu-Tambulian-Kukuban Islands Complex and set up a turtle hatchery on Tigabu Island.”
Since April to September 2017, 15 turtle nests have been relocated from the islands to the hatchery. 14 of the nests have hatched and hatchlings were released to be seen by KBT youths. The two types of turtles nesting there are Green turtles (770 turtle eggs) and Hawksbill turtles (315 turtle eggs).
Mr Melvin Richard from SWD and Encik Fazrullah Rizally Abdul Razak, Park Manager from Sabah Parks, expressed similar pleasure in witnessing the Tigabu community come together for protecting and conserving turtles. Supporting this fully is also Encik Jasni bin Matoha, Chairman of Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan Kampung (Village Development and Security Committee), who wishes to see success in marine turtle protection in the area.
The TMP is a vast area, and active community participation in assisting enforcement agencies is needed to sustain the rich biodiversity and marine resources of the park. It is hoped that this festival and turtle conservation activities will spark a sense of awareness and pride among the communities of TMP in taking care of their marine environment and natural resources.
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For more information, please contact:
Senior Communications and Campaigns Officer, Marine Programme, WWF-Malaysia (Sabah office)
Tel: +60 88 262 420 (Ext.37)