Our solution: Protection project in the Indonesian Derawan archipelago for the protection of sea turtles

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In the Indonesian Derawan archipelago off East Borneo (Kalimantan) almost all eggs of the Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas) were collected by the year 2000, which was the main reason for the decline of this population by more than 90% over the decades. The hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), which also occur here, are no less threatened with extinction as they are hunted for their tortoiseshell or to make stuffed specimens. Officially, all sea turtles in Indonesia are now protected, but the regulations are only inadequately implemented.

Our solution: conservation project in the Indonesian Derawan archipelago
Since its inception in 2000, the Turtle Foundation has operated a marine turtle conservation programme in the Derawan Archipelago. Currently, two important Green Sea Turtle nesting islands (Bilang-Bilangan and Mataha) are equipped with ranger stations that continuously guard the nesting beaches and protect about 50% of the nests in the Derawan archipelago from egg robbery. So far (as of early 2015), the Turtle Foundation has been able to help approximately 7.7 million hatchlings get started. This number seems enormous, but it should be remembered that only about one in a thousand newly hatched sea turtles reaches adulthood. As it takes over 30 years for green sea turtles to reach sexual maturity, it will be quite some time before the turtles hatched under the conservation programme return to the islands of their birth for the first time and contribute to population recovery. Such conservation programmes must therefore be very long-term to ensure sustainable success.

Once funding is secured, the Turtle Foundation plans to extend the conservation program to previously unprotected islands. This could increase the number of protected nests in the region to around 90% and better ensure the long-term survival of the population. In addition, the nearby Muara reef could be patrolled from here. This would bring the Turtle Foundation much closer to another major project objective, namely the protection of all sea turtle habitats (besides nesting beaches, feeding grounds such as coral reefs and seagrass meadows). This is all the more important as the relatively new threat to the waters of the Derawan archipelago has been massive poaching and looting by foreign fishermen, which can only be countered by increased monitoring of the waters. Here the Turtle Foundation can provide valuable support to the responsible authorities by providing its infrastructure (boats and ranger stations on uninhabited islands) and personnel.