The Anambas Sea Turtle Protection Program at Durai Island
In 2008, a multi-faceted and collaborative sea turtle conservation program was initiated in the Anambas Islands, Indonesia, an archipelago of approximately 240 islands in the South China Sea, which is the hub for nearby oil drilling companies such as Conoco Phillips, Star Energy and Premier Oil. The project is located on Durai Island where thousands of green and hawksbill turtles nest and which is considered the most populated sea turtle beach in the region.
For at least 40 years, 100% of the eggs were collected and sold for human consumption and sea turtle nesting declined approximately 75%.
In 2009, a novel conservation program to protect the sea turtles of Durai was initiated by BF and Premier Oil to establish a long-term agreement with the island’s non-resident owners and resident caretaker, Pak Lahanie.
On January 1, 2010, Pak Lahanie was no longer hired to collect the eggs – instead he was hired to protect the nests. Hundreds of thousands of hatchlings have since returned to the sea for the first time in decades.
The project is of great interest to the people of Anambas since this can result in an increase of fish around Durai due to an influx of baby sea turtles as food, thus beginning the process of restoring a healthy food web with keystone predators.
Future work will focus on engaging the community to continue with this initiative and build awareness about how this will restore depleted fisheries and sea turtle populations. Biosphere Foundation is partnering with Biosfir Indonesia. Please see their web page at www.biosfirindonesia.org and join the Kingdom of Durai Blog for news.