TAMPARULI April 27, 2012: The Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry may consider banning the sale of souvenirs made of protected animal species here.
Its minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said such a measure has in fact been carried out at airports, for instance the sale of corals is disallowed following a request from the ministry.
It is part of the ministry’s effort to preserve the environment, he said, adding that it is sad that some people choose destruction over conservation.
On the recent revelation of cruelty against hawksbill turtles in the waters off Mantanani islands, where some were found to be left to die after their shells were removed and eyes punctured, Masidi said the people should be self-disciplined and look at the bigger picture.
“The turtles are some of the best attractions that Sabah can offer to divers, and I cannot imagine people are killing them,” he said.
“They (turtles) are the source of income for many fishermen and people, and when I say income, I do not mean catch (turtles), but rather to let them live and allow divers to come to Mantanani.
“If this continues to happen, obviously the number of divers will shrink and when we do not have the product, there will be no tourists,” he said after launching the Zip Borneo, an adventure-tourism product in Kiulu here.
Masidi urged all Sabahans to help look after the marine life, including the turtles, because, as he put it: “God has given us the turtles for free, so you can make money and you can do this by looking after them.”
He said although there are existing laws to protect these protected species, it is impossible for the government and the enforcement agencies to look after each and everyone.
“So finally, it all boils down to self-discipline and for us to look at the bigger picture. Instead of having a bit of fun by poking the turtles’ eyes, why not find a better way for a more sustainable income through the tourism industry,” he said.
On April 20, a boatman found a female turtle in a pitiful state, without its shell, floating towards one of the dive lodges’ jetty in Mantanani Islands. It appeared to be weak and about 20 minutes after it was found, it died.
Two more turtles were also found in a similar condition later the same day.
It is learnt that some people from the island resorted to such cruelty to make souvenirs.
“If we love Sabah, we need to do something to stop polluting our drains and rivers. These are the waterways to the sea,”
“We found that rivers in Likas, Darau and Inanam are among the biggest contributors of rubbish flow to the sea.
“These rivers flow to the sea, bringing the rubbish with it, and the waves would return the rubbish to the shore. That is why you would be able to see a lot of rubbish floating in the sea and resting at the seashore in the state capital,”
that while many are pointing fingers at the people living in illegal colonies at the Gaya Island for the rubbish problem, study showed that some 70 per cent are caused by those in the mainland, especially moving vehicles.
Datuk Masidi Manjun Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister