Conservation of Turtles in Malaysia - Malaysia Essay Example

Introduction

            As the world undergoes changes, human and the animals in it change too in order to survive in it.  Human is the most favored as they know how to adapt, making the population increase.  Contrary to this, some animals find themselves unable to cope with the changes and instead, their species become extinct.  They all die and the world remain without its species.  As Christians believe, human was given the responsibility to take care of the animals on earth by God.  They therefore strive to protect the species of God’s animals on earth.  Scientists also know that every thing on earth depends on each other, for example, the tertiary animals in the food web are not able to manufacture their own energy and so depend on the primary produces for energy.

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The interdependence defends the need to protect any ecosystem.  In Malaysia, there are sea turtles that are endangered just like in other south east Asian states.  Efforts are therefore made to make sure that the turtles do not die and their species are conserved.  It is not only in Malaysia that turtle species are endangered, there are other states that have their sea turtles endangered and have conservation measures.  This lead to a joint formation of measures to help conserve turtles in all these areas.

            As has been noted, there are different factors that lead to the mortality of these turtles.  These are the target of the conservation measures to ensure that the turtles are conserved.  In this paper, the conservation of sea turtles in Malaysia, one of the South East States with some species of turtles feared to be endangered, will be discussed.  The state has its own measures, but there are international measures on the conservation of turtles too that the state should comply with.  These measures will be discussed and compared with the requirements of the FAO guidelines to determine how Malaysia complies with the rules.

Conservation and Management of Turtles in Malaysia

Malaysia and Its Sea Turtles

            Malaysia is a country blessed with four species of turtles among the seven species of the world [1].  The problem is, even though the state has the four species, they are in the list of endangered species.  This is the reason why the Malaysian government decided on conservation measures.  The species are, leather back turtles, hawks bill, olive ridley turtle and the green turtle[2].

            Olive ridley, hawks bill and leather back turtles’ population in the Terengganu were found to have a significant decline as compared to the green turtle in Sabah islands.  It is also shown that the high population of green turtles was due to the conservation move made by the government of Sabah in the early years [3].  The species population is determined by counting of the nests at the nesting beaches on the shores.  These nests though do not provide the exact figure of the number of species of each species but, just an approximate measure.  Studies or research has shown that there has been a decline in the number of turtles with only few nests identified in the sea shores [4].

Reasons for Decline in Population

            Turtles are animals that have a very slow growth and long maturation period [5].  This when combined with other factors, make their population reduce so much.  Just like other animals, there are predators that feed on turtles especially the young ones.  When turtles have reached adulthood, they have no predators except for the sharks.  There are several predators though for the young turtles [6].

            Human activities also affect the population of these sea animals.  Turtles are hunted for food and as a source of income by people.  These animals are always used to attract tourists.  Several human activities affect the turtles too, and these are the major contribution to the decline of turtle population.  Examples of such activities are as artificial lighting and activities at the shores, pollution, turtle egg harvest, commercial fishing, development at the coast and so many activities [7].

            Turtles prefer dark areas for nesting which is an indication that artificial lighting at the shores affect their nesting [8].  Hatchlings could also be mislead by this light to go inland instead of into the sea making them die of dehydration and predation [9].  Egg harvesting reduces the population as the turtles produce eggs and there are no young ones produced [10].  This affects their population so much since it takes along time for a female turtle to lay eggs or mature for reproduction, a period of about two to  eight years.

            The other issue is pollution.  Polluting agents such as fertilizers, oil, petroleum, runoff chemicals and many other agents, make food unavailable for the turtles.  Turtles migrate from place to place to feed or to go to their nesting regions.  During this migration, they are trapped into the fishing nets leading to their drowning and deaths [11].  Fishing is a major activity in the Malaysian waters.  So many of the human activities have not been explained, but these are the major causes of the decline in population of the turtles in Malaysia.  It is because of the decline in the population and the fear of species being extinct with time that measures were developed to protect the species.  FAO rules are among the important steps in conservation of turtles.

FAO Guidelines on Conservation of Turtles

            These are rules that are meant to prevent turtle mortality in the sea due to fishing.  They were formulated for member and non member countries involved in fishing that affects the turtles.  As it had been established that fishing activities lead to the death of turtles by being trapped in the nets, the FAO guidelines give steps on how to deal with such cases and prevent death [12].

            There are several conservation measures which are divided into eight categories and are; measures on fishing operations, sharing of information about how to conserve through research, education and training, consistency to policy, socio-economic and cultural activities considerations, capacity building and consideration of other sea turtle conservation and management, apart from the already known.

            Fishing operations:  This involves guidelines on how to improve the chances of survival for trapped turtles.  It which involves making use of the right equipments to release trapped turtles and performing resuscitation for drowned turtles and releasing them.  Under this conservation measure, the use of selective devices that cannot catch turtles is encouraged with requirement of performing research on the areas of turtle interaction, in order to avoid fishing in those areas.  Implementation of these is believed to be a step towards reducing the deaths caused by fishing using nets.  Guidelines on fishing operations are all about how the turtles can be released safely, making use of devices that cannot trap them and doing research on other safe methods of fishing

            Research, monitoring and sharing of information involves collecting information about how the turtles could be conserved, for example the traditional methods, the socio-economic impacts on them and how to manage the impacts, and sharing of all this information with areas where turtles are found [13].

            FAO guidelines requires maintenance of conservation and management of turtles policies formulated at all levels, be it at the regional, national or among government agencies.  The guidelines also indicate that areas of fishing should have fisheries departments with information about the turtles and how to conserve them, for example, the species of the turtles, their characteristics, what they feed on and so many others, to prevent affecting them due to lack of knowledge.  This information is given in form of written information materials or through seminars held to educate the people.  An example is the maturation period verses the poaching of turtle eggs.  If the agencies responsible for turtle conservation have the information about turtle reproduction, prevention of egg poaching measures will be implemented.

            Capacity building is a move to support the already stated measures on turtle conservation, which involve offering financial support, voluntary support fund, facilitating technology transfer and ensuring cooperation in research activities.  Encouraging fishing communities and industries to participate in the conservation, while considering the impacts of implementing the conservation measures on the economy and the culture of the community, is another guideline in the FAO code of turtle conservation and management.  The last one which is consideration of other aspects of conservation involves looking for alternative ways apart from the already identified [14].

Malaysian Conservation Measures

            Decline of turtle population is mainly due to the human activities.  Malaysia is a tourist attraction country and turtles are among those targets that tourists go there to see.  Tourism in Malaysia affected the nesting of the turtles for example the leather back turtles that landed in Rantau Abang for nesting.  This usually attracted so many locals and tourists which made the turtles uneasy due to noise, fire and many other disrupting activities [15].

            Sanctuaries were then developed to provide nesting sites for turtles.  These sanctuaries include the turtle island and the Ma’ Daerah.  Turtle island has three nesting islands which were converted to marine parks by the government in 1977.  In 1966 the government established a turtle hatchery on Palau Selingaan one of the largest nesting islands [16].  The department of fisheries in Sabah is the agency responsible for management of turtles in Sabah currently.

Ma’ Daerah is another sanctuary that was established in 1999 and is in Terengganu.  This sanctuary is a turtle hatchery and a nesting research management center and is managed by the department of fisheries in Malaysia [17].

            Apart from development of sanctuaries, there are programs that deal with supervision of the sanctuaries are developed, for example scientists collect the eggs to avoid being stolen or eaten and are placed in incubators [18].  Another step to conservation of the turtles is the move to educate the local communities on turtle crisis and issuing guidelines on fishing in the waters to prevent trapping of turtles by the department of fisheries in Malaysia [19].

Explanation

            It is evident that the government of Malaysia has complied with some of the FAO guidelines to reduce turtle mortality.  The government prevents people from going too the nesting sites, has developed new measures of conservation, that is collection of turtle eggs and putting in incubators to meet the target of increasing turtle population, and educating the people on turtle crisis which will help people understand and avoid killing the turtles.  A research center on nesting of turtles is also available which is according to the FAO guidelines that requires research to be done on turtle conservation methods.  Departments responsible for management of turtle conservation are also available which is like a supervisory responsibility required by the FAO guidelines.

Conclusion

            Conservation of turtles needs a lot of research about their characteristics and what affects them in order to find out ways of dealing with such issues.  This is the move that the FAO made when making the guidelines for turtle conservation.  The factors affecting turtles such as fishing, human activities, like tourism and many others, were identified and their ways of managing them identified.  The unpreventable factors such as deaths due to predators is not given much concern, but issues like tourism and egg poaching, that are preventable, have ways of prevention.

References

Eveland, J. (2005). Frommer’s Singapore & Malaysia. Asia: Frommer’s.

FAO. (2004). Guidelines to Reduce Sea Turtle Mortality in Fishing, Retrieved from:

            <<http://www.intfish.net/docs/2004/faoturtles.pdf>>.

Lutz, P. L., Musick, J. A. and Wyneken, J. (1997). The Biology of Sea Turtles. US: CRC Press.

Mortimer, J. A. (1988). Recommendations for a National Strategy on Sea Turtle Conservation in             Malaysia. Malaysia:  WWF Malaysia.

Mortimer, J. A. (1989). Marine Turtle Conservation in Malaysia: Compilation of Reports            Produced During Year 1 of WWF Project 3868, Malaysia, Marine Turtle Conservation, National Planning. Malaysia: WWF Malaysia.

Nur, Nasrah . (2008). Sea Turtle Conservation In Malaysia. Retrieved on 11th October, 2008.     From:

<<http://www.wildasia.net/main.cfm?page=article&articleID=149>>.

Paehlke, R. (1995). Conservation and Environmentalism: An Encyclopedia. UK: Taylor &         Francis.

Plotkin, p. t. (2007). Biology and Conservation of Ridley Sea Turtles. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU          Press.

Safina, C. (2007). Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur. US:

            Macmillan.

Salm, R. V., Clark, J. R., Siirila, E. (2000). Marine and Coastal Protected Areas: A Guide for    Planners and Managers: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Barcelona: IUCN.

Spotila, J. R. (2004). Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behavior, and     Conservation. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press.

Wright, A. and Hill, L. (1993). Nearshore Marine Resources of the South Pacific: Information for             Fisheries Development and Management. [email protected],

[1]             . Paehlke, R. (1995). Conservation and Environmentalism: An Encyclopedia. UK: Taylor & Francis.
[2]             . Paehlke, R. (1995). Conservation and Environmentalism: An Encyclopedia. UK: Taylor & Francis.
[3]             . Mortimer, J. A. (1989). Marine Turtle Conservation in Malaysia: Compilation of Reports Produced During Year 1 of WWF Project 3868, Malaysia, Marine Turtle Conservation, National Planning. Malaysia: WWF Malaysia.
[4]             . Mortimer, J. A. (1988). Recommendations for a National Strategy on Sea Turtle Conservation in Malaysia. Malaysia: WWF Malaysia.

[5]             . Plotkin, p. t. (2007). Biology and Conservation of Ridley Sea Turtles. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press, 2007.
[6]             . Salm, R. V., Clark, J. R., Siirila, E. (2000). Marine and Coastal Protected Areas: A Guide for Planners and Managers: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

      Barcelona: IUCN.
[7]             . Spotila, J. R. (2004). Sea Turtles: A Complete Guide to Their Biology, Behavior, and Conservation. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press.
[8]             . Lutz, P. L., Musick, J. A. and Wyneken, J. (1997). The Biology of Sea Turtles. US: CRC Press.
[9]             . Plotkin, p. t. (2007). Biology and Conservation of Ridley Sea Turtles. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press, 2007.
[10]           . Wright, A. and Hill, L. (1993). Nearshore Marine Resources of the South Pacific: Information for Fisheries Development and Management. [email protected], netting of turtles
[11]           . Wright, A. and Hill, L. (1993). Nearshore Marine Resources of the South Pacific: Information for Fisheries Development and Management. [email protected],
[12]           . FAO. (2004). Guidelines to Reduce Sea Turtle Mortality in Fishing, Retrieved from:

                http://www.intfish.net/docs/2004/faoturtles.pdf
[13]           . FAO. (2004). Guidelines to Reduce Sea Turtle Mortality in Fishing, Retrieved from:

      http://www.intfish.net/docs/2004/faoturtles.pdf
[14]           . FAO. (2004). Guidelines to Reduce Sea Turtle Mortality in Fishing, Retrieved from:

      http://www.intfish.net/docs/2004/faoturtles.pdf
[15]          . Safina, C. (2007). Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur. US: Macmillan.
[16]           . Mortimer, J. A. (1989). Marine Turtle Conservation in Malaysia: Compilation of Reports Produced During Year 1 of WWF Project 3868, Malaysia, Marine Turtle Conservation, National Planning. Malaysia: WWF Malaysia.
[17]           . Nur, Nasrah . (2008). Sea Turtle Conservation In Malaysia. Retrieved on 11th October, 2008. From:

                <<http://www.wildasia.net/main.cfm?page=article&articleID=149>>.
[18]           . Eveland, J. (2005). Frommer’s Singapore & Malaysia. Asia: Frommer’s.
[19]           . Safina, C. (2007). Voyage of the Turtle: In Pursuit of the Earth’s Last Dinosaur. US:

      Macmillan.

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