Beached whales and landed turtles can be interesting to most and exciting to some but curiosity itself can be fatal for these wildlife.
To this end, a one day awareness talk on stranded marine mammal and subsequent actions organised by WWF Malaysia was held in Kudat recently.
The seminar attended by some 80 participants from the fishing community around Kudat a well as villagers operating homestay and the Kudat Turtle Conservation unit among others.
They listened avidly to three speakers who represented the various authorities on the matter. This include the Department of Fisheries Lawrence Kissol, the Melvin R Amandus who represented the Wildlife Department as well as Dr Diana Ramirez: Assistant manager of Wildlife Rescue Unit.
In his presentation Lawrence Kissol spoke on the six species of fish and marine life that are categorized as endangered species, which include included Dugong, six species of whales, six species of dolphins., whale sharks and six species of Sawfish or Carpenter Sharks.
“It is an offence top catch them, diturb them, kill or own them,” he said adding that they should not be transferred , sold or bought.
“Those who do so are liable to be fined RM20, 000 or imprisoned for two years or both upon conviction,” he said.
Meanwhile, Melvin shared that those who are caught endangering protected marine life such as turtle would be served with heavy penalty which included RM50,000 fine or five years imprisonment or both upon conviction.
This also applied to Green Turtle and the Dugong, he said, adding that for harming in any way a Bryde Whale, one could be fined RM30,000 or three years imprisonment or both upon conviction.
“The same goes for Killer Whales, Short finned Pilot Whale, Pygmy Sperm Whale, Indo Pacific Hump back whale, Irrawady dolphin, Fraser’ Dolphin and Long Snouted Spinner Dolphin.”
On rescue of mammals, Diana shared adding that that her unit has been working with WWF and Borneo Marine Institute, UMS, where it provided facilities and staff to assist in the treatment and recovery process of rescued animals.
According to her Since 2012, the team had attended the report of two pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella atenuata) one Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus) and one rough toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis); unfortunately none of the cases had success recovering.
“In December 2012, the SWD receive a report of a stranded dolphin at Borneo Sulaman corp, Gandang Island. The dolphin identified as pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella atenuata) was found very weak and not having a balance to swim, also several lesions on the body and signs of septicemia.”
After five days the mammal died despite efforts by Vets. It was found out that there were severe damage found on the respiratory tract as well as severe parasites infestation where large amount of adult parasites were found through the muscle and abdominal cavity.
There were also other cases of foreign objects found in the subject such as plastics and clothes among others. On turtle recue she shared that on March 2012, they received a report on one green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and two hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) from a villager at Lahad Datu.
They were informed that turtles were found stuck in a fishing net. They then transported the turtles to Sandakan and they were released at the Sea Turtle Sanctuary at Lankayan island, she shared.
In July 2014, One green turtle was confiscated from a villager by the road side at Beaufort area. The Turtle was found severely emaciated and with septicemic. On another note, she advised participants to be mindful of mammals going towards the shore for they could be sick.
They should call her team immediately, while ensuring that the mammals were kept from more harm. She said they could offer more advise for individuals and groups who wished to know more about identifying and handling such matters.
WWF is promoting the implementation of conservation with the local community in Kudat. This is being held in support of the Government’s initiative to implement the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) in an area that holds high biodiversity and rich natural resources that are the main source of livelihood for 80,000 people in and around the area. -Sayangsabah