Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Release of turtle hatchlings attracts tourists to Kudat

KOTA KINABALU: The release of turtle hatchlings can be a very unique tourist attraction for Kudat, said Minister of Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang.

He said the villagers must realize that protection and conservation of turtles could bring them great economic benefits.

Teo, who is also Tanjong Kapor assemblyman, thanked and congratulated the Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS), WWF Kudat and all volunteers for their good effort in conserving the endangered turtles in Kudat.

“I understand that over the years, they have managed to hatch and release more than 4,500 baby turtles to the seas.

“The release of 100 turtle hatchlings at Kampung Bavang Jamal on July 1 which attracted about 200 local and foreign visitors is another success story.

“If we have the frequency of turtle landings to lay eggs, thus more releases of hatchlings in the future, this can be a very unique tourist attraction for Kudat,” he said.

Teo said the villagers must realise that protection and conservation of this endangered species can bring great economic benefits to the people.

Therefore, he urged the villagers who are living at the seaside to report to KTCS or WWF once they found turtle eggs to ensure that they are hatched and released to the sea.

Meanwhile, KTCS junior project coordinator Norfazilah Rahman said the release of turtle hatchlings had been an exciting moment for the locals and foreign tourists who witnessed the event for the first time.

“About 200 people showed up for the event, including tourists from China, Australia, Germany and Netherlands. Most of them bring their families and children along.”

The society also took the opportunity to educate the participants on turtle conservation through awareness talk and videos before the baby turtles were released.

Norfazilah said illegal poaching of sea turtle eggs remained a serious issue.

“The turtle hatchlings we released back in June were actually rescued from Pulau Malawali and translocated to our hatchery.”

She added that the society used to get around 4,000 turtle eggs in 2012 but the number of sea turtles nesting in the area has reduced in recent years due to human activities.

Hence, Norfazilah said KTCS is working on engaging the local communities to protect and conserve turtles, as well as to educate them on alternative livelihood.

The long-term objective of KTCS is to establish 50 community managed turtle conservation areas within Tun Mustapha Park, and to promote turtle conservation based tourism within this area.