Environment

19 million turtle hatchlings since Sabah Turtle Islands Park gazetted in 1977.

SANDAKAN: The Turtle islands park here has seen a positive turtle hatching rate at 75.3 per cent as results from conservation efforts among stakeholders.

This is revealed by Sabah Parks researcher Irwan Isnain saying that the human interventions are proven crucial in ensuring the survival of the turtle species.

He added that conservation efforts have been going on even in the 1920s but those works are only recorded properly on turtles and hatching in the 1970s when the state government gazetted the park in 1977.

Sabah Parks took over the park from Sabah Wildlife department and dedicated the site as a conservation site for green and hawksbill turtles.

“Since the gazettement, about 19 million of hatchlings were recorded up until 2018.

“However, the number does not reflect when they are at sea as only 1 of 1,000 would survive into adult turtles according to scientists,” he said at a recent Facebook live hosted by Borneo Ocean Talk today on success of turtle conservation efforts in the country.

He also added that the Turtle islands park- which comprises Selingan, Gulisan and Bakungan Kechil islands-is part of the Turtle Island Heritage Protected Area which is at the Sulu Sea off Philippines.

The six islands in the Philippines are Boaan, Langaan, Great Bakkungaan, Lihiman, Taganak and Baguan.

In 1996, Irwan said that Malaysia and Philippine became the first two countries in the world that signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the establishment and joint management of the protected area.

He added that the long term conservation activities, which spans for more than 40 decades since the gazettement of Turtle islands Park, has yielded positive results.

“It takes between 15 and 20 years for turtles to reach maturity, we see there are a spike in number of turtle nests starting from 1991 with more than 13,000 nests collected.

“In between 2009 and 2011, the number exceeded 14,000,” he said, refuting that the selling of turtle eggs in Sandakan or elsewhere in the country are from Sabah Parks area.

Meanwhile, Sabah Parks have extended the conservation efforts to the community by introducing turtle adoption programme in 2006 and conduction awareness programmes for the public.

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