11 turtle carcasses recovered but no arrest made

Remnants of illicit activity: Freshly slaughtered turtles found in the mangrove swamp area of Kg Amboh Amboh in Semporna.Remnants of illicit activity: Freshly slaughtered turtles found in the mangrove swamp area of Kg Amboh Amboh in Semporna.

KOTA KINABALU: The carcasses of 11 freshly slaughtered turtles were recovered during an integrated operations organised by the state Wildlife Department in Sabah’s east coast Semporna waters.

The operations included three rangers of the department and five personnel from the General Operations Force’s (GOF) Tiger platoon.

However, no arrests were made during the raids between Oct 1 and 2.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said yesterday that under Ops Khazanah Bersatu, the teams conducted patrols in the waters from Kg Sisipan to Tanjung Pantau-Pantau on Bum Bum Island off Semporna.

He said on Oct 1 at around 9.40am, the patrol team spotted the 11 slaughtered turtles at Kg Amboh-Amboh. However, none of the suspects were around.

The team confiscated white sacks of suspected turtle meat, 11 pieces of plastron, one hook, a cooking stove and some utensils, a knife, an axe and a whetstone at the scene.

The team returned to the hotspot the following day but could not locate the suspects who are believed to be pelauh or sea gypsies.

“Operations to arrest the suspects are still underway,” Tuuga said.

He said wildlife crimes involving sea turtles in Semporna were usually committed by pelauh, who have no identity records.

“They are also very difficult to catch because they use small boats that are easy to land anywhere on the island,” he said.

“They usually escape into the mangrove forest to hide,” he added.

On July 6, he said the joint patrol managed to arrest a suspect together with 12 pieces of plastron, 39 pieces of marginal scales and 4.8kg of turtle fat.

He was jailed for four years and fined RM150,000 by the court after pleading guilty.

“We hope to get the cooperation of the local folk to report turtle hunting activities, so as to help us in our efforts to eradicate the problem in Semporna,” he added.

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