Beach Bunch teams up with Wildlife Division to save sea turtles
BEACH Bunch has teamed up with the government’s Wildlife Division as the local NGO widens its portfolio of environmental causes to take on the conservation of sea turtles.
Rizan Latif, President of Beach Bunch, said their latest mission to save the sea turtles of Brunei will be conducted in three stages over the peak nesting period from March to June with the aim of repopulating the endangered animal.
“This is the first conservation project for Beach Bunch. We usually do beach clean-ups, but now we’re moving more towards the protection of marine life,” he explained.
The project commenced with the environmental group providing two rented all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to the Wildlife Division in a bid to enhance the agency’s capability in monitoring the nesting areas of the sea turtles, which spans from Tungku Beach to Meragang Beach.
Previously, the Wildlife Division carried out night patrols along the 20km stretch by walking or travelling using a four-wheel drive vehicle.
The Beach Bunch President noted the long distances covered was “daunting” and hoped the ATVs would help them to undertake monitoring activities more frequently. He added their increased presence at the nesting areas would also deter the poaching of sea turtles and their eggs.
At the end of May, the project will move into its second stage with practical training on Redang Island organised by Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU).
“This training is hands-on with actual sea turtles and covers patrols to eggs excavation to transport to incubation. After that, we’ll come back to adopt the programme here in collaboration with the Wildlife Division,” said Rizan.
The final stage will involve night patrols with the participation of volunteers at the nesting areas located in Brunei-Muara.
Slated to take place during the first two weeks of June, limited slots on the night patrols will be open to the public.
The Beach Bunch President said more details about the night patrols will be released on their official website at www.beachbunch.net and ‘Beach Bunch’ page on Facebook.
“Hopefully, we’ll want to do it every year,” he said, pointing out that the inaugural project is scheduled to end with the culmination of the Sea Turtle Day on June 16.
Hj Mohd Faisal Hj Nordin, Acting Head of Wildlife Division under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, said the collaboration between the agency and NGO will enable them to “move a step ahead” in the conservation of sea turtles.
Although the endangered animal is seldom seen on Brunei beaches, he was optimistic the Beach Bunch initiative would increase the likelihood of recording sea turtle sightings.
“I think this is a good collaboration, because we are complementing each other. We are trying to achieve the same objective while helping each other. We will share our knowledge and experience, while they will provide manpower through their volunteers,” he said.
The rented ATVs were handed over yesterday to Hariel Hj Simpol, the officer overseeing the National Sea Turtle Conservation and Management Programme.
The Brunei Times