Turtle hatchlings at the Segari turtle sanctuary.
A hatchery centre at the Segari turtle sanctuary. PIX BY EFFENDY RASHID

KUALA LUMPUR: Humans are the biggest threat to the survival of turtles, as their meat, eggs and shells are consumed and their habitats destroyed to make way for development. 

Conservationist and Friends of the Sea Turtles Education and Research (Foster) president Alexandar Yee said turtles had survived for 150 million years, but development threatened their existence.

“Threats to turtles can be classified as natural and human-related.

“Natural threats include beach land erosion, predators like monitor lizards and dogs preying on their nests, and rising sea levels.

“Human threats include advancements in fishing technology, development in coastal areas, increase in leisure activities around nest areas and turtle consumption,” he told the New Sunday Times.

Under Yee’s leadership, Foster started a turtle hatchery programme some four years ago, doing its part to ensure turtles made it to their natural habitat unscathed.

Yee said the threats to turtles were not only exclusive to a certain location in Malaysia, but were the same elsewhere in the world.

He stressed that humans were the largest threat to turtles, and that development had stressed the environment and other species.

“Laws and regulatory action will only slow down the extinction of other species.

“Human eating habits are a factor, as people eat turtle eggs and meat. Turtle shells are also used as ornaments.”

Yee said promotion of development, including beachfront land, was a main reason sea turtle habitats were being destroyed.

Fishing, he said, was also now done on a huge scale, with more harvests and in a shorter time frame.

Commercial fishing nets are known to capture turtles and destroy corals, the animal’s natural habitat.