KUALA LUMPUR – Environmental group WWF Wednesday launched a campaign to stop Malaysians eating turtle eggs, in a bid to help save the marine creatures from extinction.
Turtle eggs are openly sold in markets in parts of Malaysia. Turtles once arrived in their thousands to lay eggs on Malaysian beaches, but are now increasingly rare thanks to poaching and coastal development.
The five-month online campaign aims to collect 40,000 signatures from Malaysians pledging to stop consuming the eggs and halt the trade in turtles and their parts.
"Turtles play a critical role in keeping marine ecosystems healthy," WWF-Malaysia executive director Dionysius S.K. Sharma said in a statement.
"Marine turtles are threatened with extinction due to various factors, including the practice of consuming turtle eggs, becoming accidentally caught in fishing gear, poorly planned coastal development, marine and nesting beach pollution as well as illegal trade of turtles and their parts," he said.
Sharma said that some 10,000 leatherback turtles nested in northeastern Terengganu state every year in the 1950s but that this had been reduced to just 10 a year at present.
Malaysian authorities said last year that they are carrying out night patrols near endangered hawksbill turtle nesting sites in southern Malacca state after 4,000 eggs were stolen.
Under Malaysian law, it is illegal to collect turtle eggs without a permit from the fisheries department, but steady demand for turtle products and eggs in Southeast Asia continues to drive the illegal trade.