BY BORNEOTODAY TEAM
SANDAKAN – Friends of Sea Turtles Education and Research, better known by its acronym FOSTER, is gearing up for yet another year of community beach cleaning on Libaran island.
Its aim is to work with the islanders to not only clean up Libaran village and its shore line, but to ensure it remains clean all the time to further increase the frequency of turtle landings.
“Turtles are known to come ashore and lay their eggs on the island,” said FOSTER president Alexander Yee.
“A dirty shoreline not only means an unhygienic living environment for the villagers, but it could also prevent the turtles from shoring to lay their eggs.”
In 2015, FOSTER embarked on the cleaning up of Libaran’s shore line. The 3km shoreline is littered with rubbish, washed ashore from the mainland and other nearby human habitats.
The rubbish ranged from plastic bags, plastic bottles to baby diapers, car tires and even the occasional television set.
There are about 450 habitats on the islands and their main livelihood being fishing. Through a successful public dialogue in 2014, the villagers have started to maintain their compound clean and fenced up their livestock, mainly cattle.
The 3km shoreline is divided into 60 lots (50 meter each lots) for organizations to adopt. Upon collecting these adoption funds, FOSTER will disperse these funds to the villagers.
The rate of adoption is at RM100 per lot per month or a mere RM1,200 per year for the cleaning.
Recently, FOSTER’s Executive Committee met in Kota Kinabalu to brainstorm and formulate the action plans for the next twelve months.
These plans include the production of a book on Sea Turtle Volunteer Program on Libaran Island and, the engagement of FORSTER with other similar interest NGOs or groupings within Sabah and more collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department towards the conservation and protection of sea turtles.
In 2016, adoption funds came from environmentally-conscious companies such as Traverse Tours, STWA Tours in Sandakan and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia.
FOSTER hopes the public can come together to work to support this successful program again.
For anyone interested to make a difference by bringing back our clean beach, you can email to [email protected]
As part of a turtle conservation program made available through the subsequent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sabah Wildlife Department in July 2013, FOSTER was involved in the setting up of a turtle hatchery on Libaran island in 2012.
The program includes creating awareness for the locals and visitors on the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding the Libaran island area and to make available research programs on sea turtle for international and local students.
Since 2012 up till June 2016, the hatchery has collected 20,262 Green Turtle eggs and 10,598 Hawksbill Turtle (totaling 30,860) eggs.
Of these, 16,034 baby Green Turtles and 7,474 baby Hawksbill Turtles (totaling 23,808) have been successfully released into the ocean.