In September 2010, a recce trip was made to Libaran island (located 40km or 21.6 Nautical miles (1NM= 1,852 meters) to the north of Sandakan) to explore a sea turtle collaboration by the founder of FOSTER, Alexander Yee and Roland Niun of Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD). It led to the setting up of a sea turtle conservation program on the island.
The island was name Libaran, which according to legend, uses “libar tapak tangan’ (correct spelling “Lebar”) or a wider palm of the younger son as an indicator that he was more hardworking than his elder brother. He was than declared the heir apprarent to the leadership and would inherit the biggest cultivated lands.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SWD and Trekkers Lodge Sendirian Berhad (TLSB, a private company of Alexander) was duly signed on 27 June 2013 to formalise the collaboration.
The MOU aims to, among other things;
Promote sea turtle conservation on the said island through the approved hatchery.
Create awareness program for locals and visitors on conservation value of sea turtles.
Conduct research projects in order to better understanding life cycle of sea turtles of Libaran.
Make research programs on sea turtle available to students.
SWD agreed to (Section 4.1 of the MOU):
Offer expertise, advice, training and extend quarterly monitoring assistance at the turtle hatchery and to TLSB in areas related to collaboration.
Authorize TLSB to collect turtle eggs for incubation at approved hatcheries on Libaran Island.
Exercise enforcement with regards to the protection of marine turtle species.
TLSB agreed to (Section 4.2 of MOU):
Provide building and equipment for research and teaching purposes.
Provide a Director to manage the turtle hatchery.
Provide funding for day-to-day running costs and maintenance of the turtle hatchery.
Provide staff to conduct turtle hatchery and in situ operations solely for turtle conservation (with regards to identifying threats to the turtle eggs) under the close guidance and monitoring of SWD.
Participate in research, trainings and workshops on marine turtle conservation and sustainable management in areas related to this collaboration.
Promote and participate in awareness activities on marine turtle conservation in areas related to this collaboration.
FOSTER was set up on 14 October 2014 to better represent the project of Walai Penyu Conservation Park.
A new MOU, this time signed with FOSTER, extends the sea turtle conservation work on Libaran from August 2018 to August 2023. The terms and conditions remained unchanged.
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