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Penang fisherman helps conservationists find turtle eggs

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Penang fisherman helps conservationists find turtle eggs

Post Number:#1  Postby timyang » Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:26 am

AHMAD Taib is one fisherman whose record is tough to beat. And it’s not for the number of fishes he catch but for the 179 turtle eggs he uncovered in one nest alone!

It’s all for a good cause of course.

After all, the 53-year-old is the only person in Penang licensed by the Penang Fisheries Department to collect turtle eggs.

Ahmad recalled his surprise when he tracked down and stumbled upon his record haul of 179 Green Turtle eggs along one of the beaches in Teluk Bahang.

He acknowledged that normally, a collector would only find between 60 and 150 eggs in one nest.

“Finding more than 100 eggs per dig is not uncommon. But my personal best is 179,” he said of his achievement two years ago.

His latest find was on Tuesday when he discovered 71 eggs.

Despite being a full-time fisherman, Ahmad is proud to do his part in helping Penang’s turtle conservation project at the Pantai Kerachut Turtle Conservation Sanctuary.

Ahmad, who earns between RM2 and RM2.50 per egg depending on the species, said it could take him between 15 minutes to half an hour of digging to find the eggs.

He also doesn’t bat an eyelid about staying up all night to wait for the turtles, saying although he could come the following morning to look for tracks, he would rather keep vigil.

“I don’t want the eggs to be stolen before I can get to them.

“It’s such a waste for the eggs to end up in someone’s tummy when they have the potential to be hatched,” he said.

Ahmad, who discovered his ‘special skill’ by accident, said he responded to the department’s call for a turtle egg collector to help in the conservation project a decade ago.

It then took him about a year to learn how to find the eggs fast.

“We look at the turtle tracks and when we find the nest, a metal rod is thrust into the sand,” he said.

He added he used his bare hands to dig for the eggs but had to be extremely careful not to break the shells.

“If the sand feels soft and hollow, then chances are high that eggs were laid there.

“Slime on the rod is also an indication that there are eggs buried deep inside the sand,” he added.

Department licensing and resource protection officer Mansor Yobe said Ahmad had been helping to collect the eggs since 2000.

“He’s an expert. We need him to get to the eggs before they are stolen and end up being sold at the wet markets,” he said.

The eggs collected are brought to the sanctuary where they are hatched.

Eventually, the baby turtles are released.
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