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Borneo, Sarawak, Sarawak Environment

Sarawak’s sanctuary for endangered turtles

DID you know that the Talang-Satang National Park was set up mainly to conserve the Green Turtle population?

Last year, about 3,000 turtles landed on the shores of the three islands in Talang-Satang National Park — Pulau Talang-Talang Besar, Pulau Talang-Talang Kecil and Pulau Satang Besar — to lay about 200,000 eggs, between March and September.

While that sounds like a huge number, the survival rate of turtles is critically low.

Apparently from every 1,000 hatched turtles, only one survives until the adult stage.

That means from the number hatched at the Talang-Satang National Park last year, only around 200 are likely to survive into adulthood.

As discouraging as that sounds, the national park is actually playing such a vital role in the conservation of marine turtles.

Globally, the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) says Green Turtle is under threat everywhere and the outlook is increasingly grim.

There are also apparently high numbers of Green Turtles, in some areas, suffering from debilitating and potentially lethal tumours.

The WWF says Green Turtles are an important species because they help to maintain the seagrass beds and make them more productive. Without grazing by green turtles, the seagrass blades would grow tall and get choked by sediments that obscure the light and promote disease.

Additionally, seagrass consumed by Green Turtles is quickly digested and becomes available as recycled nutrients to the many species of plants and animals that live in the seagrass ecosystem. Seagrass beds also function as nurseries for several species of invertebrates and fish, many of which are of considerable value to commercial fisheries and therefore important to human food security.

Yes, Green Turtles actually help to ensure that you and I can continue enjoying food from the sea – NOT sea turtles!

So the work done by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) in the national park is extremely critical.

SFC actually welcomes public participation in its turtle conservation efforts by spending four days at the turtle conservation station on Pulau Talang-Talang Besar.

This programme aims to create awareness among the public on the importance of sea turtle conservation and at the same time to encourage knowledge sharing on this noble conservation effort.

Volunteers will be given opportunities to take part in beach patrolling, transferring turtle eggs to the hatchery, releasing of hatchlings, data recording, nest analysis, research, as well as education and conservation activities.

Perhaps you can consider taking part in this conservation programme for your next holiday break?

It’s good to know that Sarawak is playing such an important part in global conservation efforts.

The Bernama report:

Talang Satang National Park A Sanctuary For Endangered Turtles

SEMATAN (Sarawak), March 19 (Bernama) — The turtle adoption and conservation programme carried out by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) at the Talang Satang National Park was to conserve the population of the Green Turtle species (Chelonia mydas).

National Park caretaker Tonny Ganyer said the three turtle islands where the turtle conservation was being carried out – Pulau Talang Besar, Pulau Talang Kecil and Pulau Satang Besar – provide a perfect sanctuary for turtles to come ashore and lay eggs.

“The Green Turtles are fast becoming an endangered species due to predators in the sea and sea gulls as well as the danger posed by human, like fishing and beach activities,” he said after a briefing on turtle conservation and research in Pulau Talang Besar here.

He said last year about 3,000 turtles had landed on the shores of the three islands to lay about 200,000 eggs, between the months of March to September.

A major reason why marine turtles throughout the world are in danger is the continuing loss of nesting habitat and its is believed that marine turtles have an extremely high affinity for their nesting beaches, and therefore the loss or reduction of even a single nesting beach can have serious effects.

Tonny Ganyer said the SFC welcomed nature and environment lovers to participate in the conservation programme by spreading information on the importance of the eco-system and conservation of marine life, especially turtles.

“Anyone interested can apply to SFC which has its headquarters in Kuching and they can be with us for a few days to know the details,” he said.

He added that the survival rate of turtles was critically low since from 1,000 hatched turtles, only one can survive until the adult stage.

All types of turtles are listed as protected species, he said. — BERNAMA

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