KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife authorities here believe that groups of sea-faring Bajau Laut are behind the latest slaughter of some eight turtles found dead with their plastrons removed on Bum Bum island, off Sabah’s east coast of Semporna.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said that the Bajau Laut, or Pala’u had been carrying out turtle poaching activities in the area for some time, due to the discovery of another hundred turtle skeletons found in the vicinity.
“They (the suspects) do not live in the area but are always on the move by boat and come to the area occasionally. Some suspects have been identified and investigation is continuing,” he said, adding that they were mostly an undocumented community although some may be Malaysian citizens.
Wildlife officers conducted the investigation this morning following reports of a photo of some eight or nine turtle carcasses found on the east coast island that was being spread on social media.
Tuuga said that a team from Semporna with assistance from Semporna marine police, police, Sabah Park, WWF and Omadal Island Women Association went to the site where the photo was believed to be taken but the turtle carcasses were no longer there.
“We believed they may have been washed away into the sea. Only one carcass was found floating in the sea by the investigating team confirming that the earlier report was true,” he said.
Further investigation into the coastal villages around the island revealed evidence that the poaching activities has been going on for quite some time, due the number of turtle skeletons found scattered in the bushes nearby the beaches of Kg Pantau-Pantau, Kg. Amboh-Amboh and Kg. Sampolan. Bum Bum island is a large island just adjacent to Semporna.
“From the information gathered so far, we suspect that the poaching activities were carried out by Bajau Laut or Pala’uh who come to the area occasionally.
Last month, four Filipino fishermen were sentenced to two years for possession of 18 turtle plastrons, three sacks of turtle meat and a sack of turtle shells in boat near Bohey Dulang island off Semporna.
Tuuga said that they could be selling the products commercially.
Green turtles are a protected species and are listed in Division 1, Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Preservation Enactment 1997.
Section 41(1) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 provides for a fine of up to RM50,000, a jail term of up to five years, or both upon conviction.
READ MORE: –