KOTA KINABALU: A special marine turtle anti-poaching task force has been formed in view of the worsening cases of poaching in the state.
“This is among the measures taken to prevent possible extinction of marine turtles,” Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya said during a dialogue on marine turtle poaching and smuggling in Malaysia, organised by the department and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia.
A total of 99 cases involving 134,855 poached eggs were recorded from 1999 to 2013.
Last year, 60 turtle carcasses were found in Pulau Tiga and four in east coast Semporna. Another 19 carcasses have been found in Pulau Tiga so far this year.
WWF-Malaysia deputy head of Marine Robecca Jumin said the demand for turtle eggs and meat was on the rise.
Malaysia, as a main migratory route for marine turtles, must have strict enforcement to protect the species, she said.
“We hope the taskforce will be operational soon. Concerned citizens can start working with the task force by providing information that can contribute to better protection of turtles in our waters.”
Representatives from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Customs Department, Sabah Parks, Department of Fisheries Sabah and the Civil Defence Department, among others, took part in the dialogue.
The marine turtle anti-poaching taskforce will involve all agencies present at the dialogue in efforts to save turtles in Sabah through the Malaysian Wildlife Enforcement Network.
The taskforce is also expected to strengthen its collaboration with neighbouring countries through regional initiatives such as the Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion, Coral Triangle Initiative and Asean-Wildlife Enforcement Network.
Apart from that, the taskforce is also expected to strengthen conservation efforts in remote monitoring and surveillance, especially in targeted areas, and to work towards zero poaching.