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Population Status

The Leatherback Turtle Population in Terengganu

The annual number of nestings has declined precipitously over the last 40 years, with current levels representing less than 2% of the figures recorded in the 1950’s.  The declining trend is as indicated in the number of nestings per year since 1956. Primary factors contributing towards the decline include incidental captures in high seas fisheries, especially drift nets; and various types of fishing gear within the territorial waters of Malaysia and other coastal nations; a long history of egg exploitation (consumption and sale of leatherback eggs has been banned since 1988), marine pollution and loss of nesting habitats.

The Green Turtle Population in Terengganu

Nesting density for green turtles in Terengganu show wide year to year fluctuations. This characteristic is common among many green turtle populations.  Average annual nestings estimated from the last ten years’ data at 2,945 nestings per year is about 38% of the 1956 figures, representing a 62% decline. Nonetheless, the size of the green turtle population in Terengganu is the most significant, compared to the other species. However, there is growing concern that the population will decline further since egg exploitation was high in the past and is still being practiced today.

The Hawksbill Turtle Population in Terengganu
Terengganu Hawksbill nesting trends

The remaining nesting population is very low, estimated at a ten year average of only 41 nestings per year. The last five-year average has declined by 20%, compared to the previous five year average, and by 49%, compared to nestings in 1978. Comparision with earlier records is not possible because of lack of historical data.

The Olive Ridley Population in Terengganu
Terengganu Olive Ridley nesting trends

Like the leatherback, the olive ridley has registered dramatic declines within the last ten years. The 98 nestings recorded for 1993 represent only 33% of nestings recorded ten years ago in 1984. Over the last six years, the population has declined at an annual average of 21% per year.


The Turtle Islands of Sabah

The green turtle population nesting at the Turtle Islands of Sabah has staged a remarkable recovery though the efforts of Sabah Parks. The green turtle is by far the major species, accounting for over 90% of the total nestings.

The hawksbill turtle on the other hand, accounts for only about 10% of the nestings. Even so, the current hawksbill population of the Turtle Islands of Sabah is recognised as the biggest nesting concentration of hawksbills in the ASEAN region.


The Turtle Islands of Sarawak

Sea turtle nestings occur primarily at the Turtle Islands of Sarawak (Talang-Talang Besar, Talang-Talang Kecil and Satang Besar) The turtle nesting population has remained fairly constant with the typically large annual fluctuations. Green turtles are the most common species, accounting for more than 90% of the total nestings. The hawksbill turtle and Olive Ridley turtle accounts for less than 10% of the total nestings. Hawksbill nestings occur mostly at Pulau Satang Besar while Olive Ridley nests on the mainland coast but sometimes also at the Talang-Talang islands.

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