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  The Star 15 Jun 06
Turtle eggs sold near sanctuary

KUALA TERENGGANU: “It was the most heartbreaking sight.” This was how tourist Elaine Cheh, 26, felt after seeing turtle eggs being sold at a petrol kiosk convenience store in the once-famed leatherback haven of Rantau Abang last week.

The marketing executive from Kuala Lumpur said the eggs were packed in plastic bags and hung loosely on the shelves next to items such as biscuits and toys.

Cheh, who complained via e-mail to The Star, said she was shocked that the eggs of the endangered species were being sold at the “doorstep” of the Rantau Abang turtle sanctuary. “Five eggs were sold for RM11 and 10 eggs for RM22,” said Cheh, who, together with friends, stayed two days in a chalet in Rantau Abang, hoping to see turtles nesting.

“It was a disappointment as we did not see any turtles. We only saw turtle eggs sold in plastic bags,” she said.

Cheh said the petrol kiosk was located about 500m from the Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre (Tumec) – a body which oversees the conservation of marine species.

Turtle scientist Prof Chan Eng Heng believed that eggs of the green turtle could have come from Rantau Abang. “Although the sale of turtle eggs, except for those of the leatherbacks, are allowed, it is illegal to collect eggs from turtle sanctuaries,” she said.

Tumec head Kamaruddin Ibrahim could not be reached for comment.

In a related matter, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh has for the first time shown interest in curbing the sale of turtle eggs. He has asked for a report from the Wildlife and Fisheries department as well as Kolej Universiti Sains dan Teknologi Malaysia.

“I want to know how to protect the eggs,” he told newsmen after releasing 80 river terrapin hatchlings into Sungai Dungun on Tuesday

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