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1 May 06
Mascot Turtle Loses to 'Nemo' in Malaysia
SLOW and steady no longer wins the race in Terengganu. The Malaysian state has upset wildlife conservationists by dumping the turtle as its mascot in favour of the zippier clownfish.
It's a bid by Terengganu to ramp up its image ahead of hosting the biannual Malaysian Games in 2008, reported Star newspaper yesterday.
'The turtle is too slow. We prefer the fish because it is more agile and dynamic,' the state's Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh told the paper. 'This colourful fish can help project the state's vibrant tourism industry and scenic islands.'
But turtle expert Professor Chan Eng Heng from Malaysia's University of Technology begged the state to reconsider its decision. The mascot switch sent a signal that the state was turning its back on its endangered turtle population, she said.
She added that Terengganu was the only state in peninsular Malaysia where turtles nested in good numbers.
'Although the leatherbacks, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill (turtle species) are on the verge of extinction, we still have green turtles,' she said.
Datuk Seri Idris rejected the desertion charge. 'Nobody has been more forceful than the present state administration in protecting the turtles,' he said. 'We have gazetted 10 turtle sanctuaries and this reflects our deep commitment.'
Clownfish found fame in the wake of the movie Finding Nemo. The movie also featured a turtle - ironically called Crush.
The Star 29 Apr 06
Turtle crushed as Terengganu fishes for dynamism
KUALA TERENGGANU: The turtle, Terengganu's most popular symbol and sports mascot, is losing its appeal while a fish resembling Nemo, Pixar Studio's animated character, is swimming into the limelight. Terengganu, which is hosting the Sukma 2008 Games, has introduced the clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) as its mascot, replacing the turtle, which has been synonymous with the state for decades.
"The turtle is too slow. We prefer the fish because it is more agile and dynamic," said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh here yesterday. The new mascot for the Sukma 2008 Games in Terengganu is the clownfish. "This colourful fish can help project the state?s vibrant tourism industry and scenic islands," he said, adding that the decision was made by the state executive council at its recent mee-ting.
There are 28 species of clownfish but the most common and the one that looks most like the one in the movie Finding Nemo is the bright orange and white striped Percula clownfish. The movie also featured a turtle called Crush.
When asked whether the move meant that the government was no longer placing importance on turtles, he said: "Nobody has been more forceful than the present state administration in protecting the turtles. We have gazetted 10 turtle sanctuaries and this reflects our deep commitment."
Turtle scientist Prof Chan Eng Heng of Kolej Universiti Sains dan Teknologi Malaysia (Kustem) urged the state to reconsider its decision. She said the move was tantamount to the state turning its back on the creatures, adding that Terengganu, was the only state in the peninsula where turtles nest in good numbers.
"Although the leatherbacks, Olive Ridley and Hawksbill are on the verge of extinction, we still have green turtles," she said.
BBC Online 29 Apr 06
State drops rare turtle as mascot
by Jonathan Kent BBC News, Kuala Lumpur
A Malaysian state is to drop its symbol and sports mascot - the turtle - amid allegations by conservationists of embarrassment at the creature's demise.
Three of the four species for which Terengganu is known, including the giant Leatherback, are on the verge of extinction in the Pacific.
The state's chief minister said the new mascot - a clown fish - was "more agile and dynamic".
But a conservationist said: "He prefers it because it's not dead".
Back in the 1960s, 10,000 Leatherbacks would land on the state's beaches to lay their eggs each year. But recently, only two or three have made an appearance.
Although Terengganu has set up a number of turtle sanctuaries, officials have decided to change its mascot rather than step up conservation efforts.
Little action is taken over the selling of the amphibian's eggs in local markets and they have also suffered from the effects of deep sea fishing.
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