By Ruben Sario
KOTA KINABALU: A meeting of Malaysian and Philippine wildlife officials on March 24 will see the formulation of measures to combat transboundary poaching such as those involving endangered turtles.
The dialogue, hosted by the Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF-Malaysia, will take place three weeks after the discovery of 19 turtle carcasses at Pulau Tiga off Sabah’s northern Kudat district.
The discovery came just a year after 60 turtle carcasses were found on the same island, which is within the proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP).
Noting that turtle killings were getting rampant in Sabah, WWF Malaysia deputy head for Marine Programme Robecca Jumin said there had been reports of similar poaching activities in the proposed park.
Similar killings of turtles have occurred elsewhere in Sabah. Four turtles were found dead in Semporna in April last year, she said.
Robecca said that since turtle poaching was a transboundary crime, the Malaysian Government should address the issue through various platforms such as Sulu-Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion Threatened, Charismatic and Migratory Species Sub-group and the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF).
She said the turtle killings should also prompt the Sabah government to speed up the gazetting of the TMP, apart from increasing law enforcement activities in the area.
She said the state government should also consider setting up a Sabah Parks sub-station on Pulau Tiga, a strategic location for enforcement.
She urged the authorities to build rapport with the local communities so they could provide information about poaching activities.