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 Local

First tagging of sea turtle on Libaran Island

24th February, 2016

By JAMES LEONG

SANDAKAN: Friends of Sea Turtles Education & Research (FOSTER) conducted its first tagging of a sea turtle on Libaran Island.

“This is a significant moment and an important milestone for FOSTER as turtles on Libaran Island have never been tagged and scientifically monitored before,” FOSTER president Alexander Yee said.

A green turtle weighing about 180kg came ashore and laid 74 eggs on Sector 1 of Libaran Island beach on the evening of Feb 21.

Alexander together with FOSTER executive members Yusop Teppo, Haslin Gaffor and FOSTER advisor Dr. James Eng were on site to “welcome” her. After she finished laying her eggs, she was promptly measured and tagged. Earlier this year, Sabah Wildlife Department provided FOSTER with the tags. Dr. James, who is also Universiti Malaysia Sabah researcher cum lecturer was present during the tagging.

“Tagging is important for us to be able to carry out scientific works. The tag “marked” the turtle and allows us to identify her when she visits the other shores or returns to Libaran. So far, I have suggested to tag those coming ashore to lay eggs, maybe in future, FOSTER can tag those around the waters of Libaran,” Dr James said. Alexander is glad that the turtle conservation efforts have now progressed to turtle tagging.

“We have been working together with Sabah Wildlife Department to operate the turtle hatchery for the last three years. The turtle landings on the island have seen a marked increased and thus far, we have released over 30,000 baby turtles from this hatchery. And this year the department suggested that we start to tag the turtles. It is a significant milestone for this programme.”

Alexander, who is also the managing director of Trekkers Lodge Sdn Bhd, operates a turtle hatchery on the island through the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sabah Wildlife Department in 2013. This is in response to a call by department to work together to solve the illegal turtle poaching on the island as reported by one of the villagers.

On the same day before going to Libaran island, FOSTER had in fact just held its AGM and elected a new committee to lead the association for the next two years.

Haslin has been following the progress of the turtle hatchery programme on Libaran island since its inception. He is encouraged by the positive progress and this year, has volunteered his time to be a committee member of FOSTER.

“It is important that we conserve and protect our environment and this is my small way to play a part in giving back and ensuring that our future generations can still enjoy the same quality of flora and fauna of Sabah,” Haslin said.

   
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