Wildlife dept probing seven gutted carcasses near Pulau Mabul


Sad sight: The carcasses of the gutted turtles spotted near Pulau Mabul.

Sad sight: The carcasses of the gutted turtles spotted near Pulau Mabul.

KOTA KINABALU: More turtle carcasses have been discovered in Sabah’s east coast.

Facebook user Ridwan Abdul Razak shared photos of the seven dead turtles he found floating in the waters near Pulau Mabul at about 11.20pm on Saturday.

They were similar to those found near Pulau Bum Bum in Semporna earlier last week, with their flesh and plastron (lower shell) harvested.

“Hopefully the authorities will take action,” Ridwan wrote.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said an investigation team was immediately dispatched to the island when they were alerted about the carcasses yesterday morning.

“We are trying to ascertain whe­ther the turtles were killed there or whether the carcasses had drifted from another location,” he said.

Augustine said their investigations also focused on tracking down the buyers of the turtle meat and plastron, which are said to be ingredients for traditional medicine.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Envi­ronment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the state was looking at tightening existing wildlife laws so that those suspected of killing protected species would have to prove themselves innocent instead of the other way round.

He said it was not easy for prosecutors to find substantial evidence to prove that the suspect had killed an endangered animal.

Among the obstacles they faced was getting reliable witnesses, he added.

Masidi’s comments followed the recent killings of two bull pgymy elephants in Kalabakan and Kinaba­tangan, and at least nine endangered green turtles near Pulau Bum Bum.

About 100 turtle skeletons were also found on the island recently.

The killing of the green turtles had caught the attention of Sea Shepherd founder Capt Paul Watson, who offered a reward of US$5,000 (RM21,000) for information on the culprits.

Writing on his Facebook page, Capt Watson, who is also the CEO of the US-based non-profit marine wildlife conservation organisation, described those killing the turtles as monsters and said there was no justification for such savagery.

He urged those with information on the turtle poachers to contact the Sabah Wildlife Department.

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