On the right track: Turtle hatchlings being released to the sea.
KOTA KINABALU: Efforts are under way in Sabah’s southwest Kuala Penyu district to once again become a key nesting ground for turtles.
The district office has set up a turtle hatchery and the first hatchlings were released to the sea on June 18.
The release spelt hope for local officials as the turtles would often return to nest at the same place where they were hatched.
Kuala Penyu district officer Edmond Teoh said though the area got its name from the turtles that used to land at the beaches to lay their eggs, conservation efforts were never a priority there.
“In the past, turtle landings were quite common but due to irresponsible individuals who harvested the eggs and the female turtles, the number of landings dropped considerably over the years,” he said.
Teoh said the district action committee started a hatchery programme with the state Wildlife Department to revive the turtle population as well as the number of landings.
Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the effort had begun to pay off as a participant of a turtle awareness programme found a turtle nesting site in Kuala Penyu and transferred 102 eggs to the Turtle Hatchery Centre on April 23.
He said 56 days later, 92 baby Hawksbill turtles successfully hatched and were released along the beaches of Kg Menumpang on June 18.
Dr Ambu said another 105 turtle eggs had since been transferred to the hatchery and another batch of baby turtles would be released soon.
“This programme will take some time to have a direct effect on increasing the turtle population and turtle landings but it is on the right track,” he said.