For those of us who are fortunate enough to call Malaysia home, you will no doubt realise that not only are we blessed with an abundance of good food that is second to none, our country is also home to one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.
In fact, our ecology is actually described of as being ‘megadiverse’, a term defined by the United Nation’s Environmental Program as ecosystems that house a majority of the world’s flora and fauna species.
Which is why we, as Malaysians, shoulder the heavy burden of having to ensure the conservation and survival of the many plants and animals endemic to our country. However, it appears that the trade of endangered wildlife in Malaysia continues to be well and alive, despite continued efforts to preserve their numbers.
In a recent Tweet shared by Dr Chen Pelf Nyok (@pelf81), it was revealed that over the Ramadan period, an unnamed individual had purchase a bagful of turtle eggs to eat. But the individual had apparently forgotten to consume them and stashed them away. While it is unclear under what conditions the eggs were stored in, they proved to be a conducive environment for some of the eggs to develop into maturity.
As a result, three hatchlings hatched from the eggs. They were subsequently surrendered to Dr Chen, who co-founded the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia.
“Turtles will hatch and survive guys, if we only give them a chance.” she reminds the public, with photos shown to document the three adorable hatchlings.
Somebody bought some sea turtle eggs during Ramadan and forgot to eat them. Two months later, three hatchlings hatched and they were surrendered to us for release.
— Pelf Nyok (@pelf81) June 24, 2020
While this moment is no doubt touching to see, we are left to wonder just why it is that turtle eggs continue to be for sale in Malaysia, despite the generally endangered nature of our sea-faring friends. To begin with, the Pahang State Government released a statement earlier this year to remind all Malaysians that the sale and distribution of turtles and turtle eggs is outlawed across the nation.
However, it should be noted that in the state of Terengganu, only the sale and distribution of leatherback turtles is prohibited. This would mean that other turtles are not protected under Teregganu’s local fishery laws, leaving them vulnerable to the trade and consumption of their eggs. Why, you may ask?
Well because according to the Department of Fisheries Malaysia, laws concerning the conservation of turtles in Malaysia is administered and enforced on a state level and in Terengganu’s case, only leatherback turtles are protected under the Terengganu Turtle Enactment 1951.
Ya Allah! Musim PKP ini lah di mana banyak ibu penyu naik mendarat. Tapi jenis kita ni, nak je jual/beli semua telur penyu. Tak kisah lah, samada penyu hidup atau pupus. Biar makan dulu.
— Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (@TCSMsia) May 13, 2020
For quite a considerable amount of time, this selective protection and conservation of only selected turtles has led to a rampant underground market for turtle eggs that do not fall under the purview of this enactment. In fact, the sale of turtle eggs had become so prolific, they were even found for sale on online e-commerce platforms.
Of course, that’s not to say that the issue has gone unaddressed. In fact, in a recent report by The Straits Times, Terengganu is actually planning to ban the sale of all turtle eggs. Noting a ‘sharp decline in arrivals of all types of turtle species in Terengganu’, this ban will likely prohibit the open sale and trade of turtle eggs in the state, which has been a common practice for quite a while now.
Though, no further mention of it has been made concerning how this ban will be enforced, or what penalties will be imposed.
At this point in time, it should be noted that various non-profit organisations such as Dr Chen’s own Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia and WWF Malaysia have been doing all that they can in their power to ensure the survival and propagation of these turtles back on our shores. So if you wish to be a part of their initiative, check out their websites to find out how you can help!
As the saying goes, when the buying stops, the killing can too. So pledge to do your part to help the survival of turtles on Malaysian shores.
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