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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Karkum Villagers Use Bamboo Grids To Protect Turtle Nests


Sea turtles of today have changed little from their ancient reptilian ancestors that appeared on earth millions of years ago before humans. For many years, humans have been exploiting turtles for food and decorative ornaments. In the last 200 years or so, the uncontrollable harvests of adults and juveniles and turtle eggs have caused sea turtle population worldwide to drastically decline. The remaining population is critically endangered and very close to extinction.

Of the seven of world’s marine turtles, six occur in the PNG marine waters. These include the flatback, the green turtle, the hawskbill, leatherback, the loggerhead and olive ridley. Of these six, hawsbill, green turtle and leatherback turtle are most common. From previous survey results and anecdotal information, PNG has some of the largest remaining populations of hawksbill, green turtle and leatherback turtle in the world today. However, these populations and especially the leatherback turtle have rapidly declined,” the driver emphasized.

Marine turtles have lived over 100 millions of years. They grow slowly and take between 30-50 years to reach sexual maturity. Some live to be over a 100 years old.

Sadly, all marine turtle species are experiencing serious threats to their survival. The main threats are:
•Pollution which can cause change to the environment – especially reefs and nesting areas;
•Marine turtles are also killed by entanglement in marine debris;
•Incidental catch in active fishing gear;
•Predation by feral animals, changes to habitat; and
•Food sources and indigenous hunting.

Marine turtles have traditionally had strong cultural linkages to local communities along the coastal areas of PNG. To maintain these cultures drastic decline in turtle populations must be able to be put to a stop.

Many beaches and near shore reefs along the coastal areas of PNG are home to the marine turtles. While turtle conservation programs have been initiated in a few parts of PNG, large areas although significant in nature lack turtle conservation programs. It is in these areas that local consumption of turtle for eggs and meat goes on without saving some of these turtles and eggs.

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