KOTA KINABALU: Rangers from the Sabah Wildlife Department have been dispatched to Semporna, where they will visit the site where at least nine green turtle carcasses were allegedly found and carry out investigations into the matter.
This followed a photo which went viral on social media, showing the turtles lying on a beach with their plastrons missing. Their shells however appeared intact.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said his officers in Tawau had managed to contact the person who took the photo earlier today.
“He confirmed that he took the photo yesterday. He sent the photo to his nephew who posted it on Facebook,” he told FMT.
Tuuga said the incident, if proven true, was regrettable. He added that the department had already prosecuted four individuals for similar offences last month.
He was referring to an incident on Aug 23, in which four Filipino fishermen were sentenced to two months’ jail and fined RM100,000 each in default of nine months’ jail for possessing green turtle parts such as meat, skin and shells.
Green turtles are a protected species and are listed in Division 1, Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Preservation Enactment 1997.
Section 41(1) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 provides for a fine of up to RM50,000, a jail term of up to five years, or both upon conviction.
Tuuga did not dismiss the possibility that this latest act was also committed by Filipino fishermen.
He declined to comment on another photo which has gone viral, showing a man standing on a pier amid dozens of dead sharks.
According to the accompanying caption, the photo was taken in Sandakan, on Sabah’s east coast.
Sharks are not listed as protected species in Sabah. Cases involving sharks come under the jurisdiction of the Fisheries Department.