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Sabah on the world turtle map

SANDAKAN: Pulau Selingan, an island 50 minutes away by speedboat, has gained international recognition in turtle conservation following its gazetting as a park 40 years ago. "This has directly contributed to efforts to sustain the survival of turtles," Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais said, when officiating the 40th Turtle Island Park Gazettement Day, Saturday. "This is also in line with Sabah Parks objective towards maintaining and preserving places of interest with geography, geology, biology or historical sites from being polluted," he said. He said gazetting the park is an important effort in the conservation of the environment and brings new hope to the people of Sabah, especially in safeguarding the State's marine resources.

Sabah Parks is responsible for protecting and managing the area through enforcement of the Parks Enactment 1984. This includes providing basic amenities and recreational opportunities to the people, including tourists, as well as open opportunities for research. Since 1964, eight islands have been declared as turtle farms namely Selingan, Gulisaan, Bakkungaan Kecil, Tegapil, Lankayan, Billean, Koyan-Koyan and Nunukan. The first turtle hatchery centre in Sabah was built on Selingan Island in August 1966 and two years later, two more turtle hatchery centres were set up in Bakkungaan Kecil and Gulisaan.

In 1971, ownership of Pulau Selingan, Pulau Bakkungaan Kecil and Pulau Gulisaan were transferred from the original landowners to the State Government with compensation of RM89,000. A year later, Turtle Island Park was declared as a Bird and Wildlife Heritage site and on Oct. 1, 1977, the island was gazetted as a National Park or Sabah Park. Turtle Island Park covers 1,740 hectares, namely 18.2 hectares with Pulau Selingan measuring 8.1 hectares, Pulau Bakkungan Kecil 8.5 hectares and Pulau Gulisaan 1.6 hectares. While 1,721.8 hectares of the Turtle Island Park is the sea and coral reefs. The park is also part of the Turtle Island network in the Sulu Sea where six other islands are located in the Philippines waters.

Data recorded from 1979 to 2016, green turtles and hawksbill turtles that have landed and laid their eggs in Pulau Selingan found a total of 279,389 nest, 80,206 nest in Pulau Bakkungan Kecil and 68,321 in Pulau Gulisaan. The highest number of turtle landings was recorded in 2011 with as many as 15,219 nest, followed by 2009 with 14,042 nest and 1991 with 13,045 nest. The number of turtle eggs collected in the park from 1979 to 2016 is 22,449,572 eggs, namely 10,428,711 in Pulau Selingan ,6,381,682 in Pulau Bakkungan Kecil and 5,629,179 in Pulau Gulisaan.

In terms of the number of turtles released to the sea is 16,923,702 involving 15,829,841 green turtles and,093,861 hawksbill turtles. Turtles that land and laid eggs in the Turtle Island Park were also marked and based on data from 1981 to 2016, a total of 85,870 turtles have been marked involving 81,149 green turtles and 4,721 hawksbill turtles. Jamili also said efforts to raise public awareness especially visitors to the park were done through the Turtle Nest Adoption programme introduced in June last year, adding that it is opened to all visitors with an offer of RM100 for each turtle nest. The programme gained encouraging response from visitors with donations last year collected from 103 people. From January to October this year, a total of 353 people have already donated.

The figure started to increase in 1989 with 1,737 people, the highest arrival was recorded in 2005 with a total of 14,391 visitors, followed by 2006 with 14,421 visitors, 14,336 visitors in 2007 and 14,431 visitors in 2008. The number of visitors from 1982 to September 2017 has now reached 256,002. He said efforts to sustain the development should also be made possible by the community, adding that security forces are also rewarded in safeguarding security. - Mardinah Jikur

(Source : Daily Express)