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Green Sea Turtle Tracking In The TIHPA Region


This entry describes an on-going study that aims to describe the migration paths of green sea turtles after they have nested in Selingan Island, part of the Turtle Island Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA) which is the first trans-boundary PA in South East Asia. To date, tagging methods is the main method used by marine turtle conservationists. While this method has proven effective in quantifying nesters per area and in substantiating the return of turtles from the areas where they were formally recorded to complete their nesting period, tagging per se does not account for the route taken by sea turtles once they leave the nesting beach. Though the use of satellite telemetry, scientists and policy makers alike will be able to get scientific evidence of the routes taken by green sea turtles and the areas where they most likely forage. By pinpointing these locations, policy makers can better craft guidelines that will strengthen enforcement in the identified critical spots and corridors.

Problem, challenge or context: 

This practice forms part of the NBSAP goals under Protected Area Management, specifically trans-boundary PA management. This is because the area of interest is at the Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area, the first trans-boundary PA. Established in 1996 through a Memorandum of Agreement between Malaysia and the Philippines, the TIHPA aims to protect the population of green sea turtles that is shared within the TIHPA. Composed of nine islands, the TIHPA is a perfect example of governments should cooperate in order to conserve migratory species.

Specific elements of components: 

Sea turtles are included in the top 10 priority listing for conservation by IUCN. The CITES, on the other hand, lists the sea turtles found in the TIHPA on Appendix . For the last 30 years, the Philippine government has been tracking the population of sea turtles in the country. As mentioned earlier, to strengthen conservation efforts, the Philippines inked an agreement with Malaysia to improve environmental campaigns in the TIHPA. Despite these efforts, sea turtles in TIHPA continue to be the subject of perennial poaching. The eggs of sea turtles are also seen as food items or lucrative commodity. This being said, weak enforcement seems to be apparent in the area. Through satellite telemetry, officials can identify areas where sea turtles spend most of their time after nesting. By focusing enforcement on these areas, poaching are likely to be mitigated and perpetrators can be apprehended.

The action taken:
Since this is an on-going study, it is still early to state the factors that affected the perceived success of the project. Nevertheless, ongoing efforts are being done by both countries in improving trans-boundary monitoring of the sea turtles. First, information exchange through the satellite telemetry data have proven to be helpful.

Key lessons learned: 

NNow that the project is being implemented, one of the key factors that affected it at the start is the state of security in the TIHPA. The threat of kidnapping and terrorism lurks the area which prohibited the researchers to deploy telemetries at previously identified islands. This factor was not completely circumvented since the researchers completely looked for alternative areas where the telemetries can be deployed. The lesson that can be derived here is that peace and order should be accounted at all times and that constant communication with government personnel is essential in order to know that status of security on the ground.

Impacts and outcomes: 

Again, quantifiable impacts are not yet available.

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