Brunei lacks sea turtle experts

National 2 minutes, 37 seconds


THE lack of academic experts on sea turtles in Brunei is a challenge but it does not stop local non-government organisations (NGOs) in conserving these marine species.

Two of Brunei environmental groups, Beach Bunch and BruWILD, found other alternatives in turtle conservation to compensate for the lack of academic experts in the country.

Among the alternatives was that the NGOs took their own initiatives to get proper training and knowledge of turtle conservation in Terengganu, Malaysia.

These NGOs have sent their members last year, at different times, to equip themselves with the right educational background of marine turtles and experience firsthand training of conserving these species through SEATRU (Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s Sea Turtle Research Unit) volunteer programme in Redang Island.

In an interview with The Brunei Times recently, Rizan Latif, Beach Bunch president, said that sea turtle academic experts are needed in Brunei to develop further understanding of sea turtles academically and scientifically.

“As far as I am aware, Brunei has no academic experts or scientists on sea turtles. Even in local universities, they have not offered any subjects on sea turtles unless you are doing it as a part of your Masters’ project or research,” said Rizan.

Rizan went on to say that as an alternative to the lack of academic experts in the country, aside from the SEATRU programme, Beach Bunch has also invited academic experts from an educational institution overseas to assist with his group’s sea turtle conservation programmes.

Referring to Beach Bunch’s Sea Turtles’ Night Watch programme conducted last year at Brunei-Muara beaches, Rizan said although the aim of the programme was to find more sea turtle nesting areas in Brunei, the result was not encouraging.

“There were not a lot of nests or eggs found at the time, but that’s probably because there was an error in our approach. That’s why we are bringing in academic experts from outside to have a look at where is the best place to find these eggs,” he said.

He also disclosed that he is looking to establish a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a foreign university for further academic insights on sea turtles in Brunei Darussalam.

In a separate interview, the president of BruWILD, Liaw Lin Ji, told The Brunei Times that the lack of academic experts on sea turtles in Brunei can be a barrier in fully accomplishing an effective sea turtle conservation in the country.

However, she added that even with such challenge, there are always other options to help conserve the marine species.

“So by sending our members to SEATRU, at least we have some experience and knowledge in dealing with sea turtles and ways to conserve them, rather than none at all,” she said.

Getting the correct educational information on marine turtles and sharing the knowledge to the wider community are also ways of helping to conserve these species in the sultanate, said Lin Ji.

“There are many ways of doing things and if you have the drive, you’ll still find your ways around any challenges. You just have to be proactive and keep your options open,” she said.

The Brunei Times