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  Antara 29 Jan 07
Only 1,000 leatherback sea turtles left

Pangkalpinang (ANTARA News) - The population of Belimbing turtles (Dermochelys Coriacea) in Bangka Belitung Province has fallen to 1,000 due to rampant hunting of the rear species for traditional medicines and leather-made accessories.

"It is very difficult for local fishermen now to get the species," head of the forestry section of the local agriculture and forestry office Andre Wiryono said.

The rare species is usually found in three different locations, including the waters off Mendarnu Island, he said. He added the species had to be conserved to prevent them from being extinct by breeding them.

Based on the report of the Conservation International (CI), an environmental group, the population of Belimbing turtle in the Pacific Ocean continued to decrease, raising fears that the species might become extinct in ten years` time.

It noted that the population of Belimbing turtle has plummeted by 97 percent in the past 22 years. It added five other species of leatherback sea turtle are also on the brink of extinction.

Among the five turtle species are Penyu Kemp`s Ridley (Lepidochelys Kempi) and Penyu Sisik (Eretmochelys Imbricata) which according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) are at the greatest risk of being extinct. The others are Penyu Hijau (Chelonia Mydas), Penyu Lekang or Grey Turtle (Lepodochelys olivacea) and Penyu Tempayan or loggerhead (Caretta Caretta).

Related articles on Global: marine issues and sea turtles
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