Turtle Conservation on Belambangan Island, Berau Regency, East Kalimantan

Belambangan Island (also known as Balembangan, different spelling) is a small island which is very remotely located and bordering the Philippines. Belambangan Island which is under the jurisdiction of Berau Regency - East Kalimantan, Indonesia has a land area of 9.3 hectares and is totally uninhabited by humans. The main reason is that the island does not have the main resources for human life, fresh water.

Despite the small size, the island is the most densely populated by the green turtles (Chelonia mydas) or the most nesting habitats in the Berau Regency waters. It is estimated that in one year there are 2,500 - 3,000 visits by the female green turtles nest in the the island producing at least 1,500 nests, or equivalent to 150,000 turtle eggs.

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On Belambangan Island, turtles lay eggs throughout the year, but the highest turtle nesting season occurs between June and December. In this turtle nesting season, in one night, there can be around 40 green turtles land on Balembangan Island.

Since the beginning of 2019, the Indonesian Turtle Foundation (locally abbreviated as YPI), supported by the Turtle Foundation and PROFAUNA Indonesia, has organized a sea turtle conservation program on Belambangan Island. Besides being supported by these two organisations, YPI also receives support from the Berau Regency Board of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DKP) and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (KKP).

To protect the sea turtle habitats, YPI deploy Rangers to protect the marine wildlife which is protected by law. The task of the YPI Ranger is mainly to prevent poaching or hunting of sea turtle eggs. In addition, the YPI Rangers also collect data on the numbers of nesting female sea turtles, nests, eggs, and hatching eggs and the statistics, and the number of hatchlings that survive. Another task is the relocation of the sea turtle eggs located in the tidal area to other safer areas in the island.

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Rangers are also trained to develop their skills in detecting the location of the sea turtle nests. Green turtle nests are among the most difficult to detect, thus it requires Rangers' accuracy and patience to detect the location of the nests.

Fresh water and food supplies for the Rangers were imported from outside the island. This requires expensive costs because it must be transported by a strong boat. The boat will sail the open seas which wave characters are very difficult to predict.

The main challenge in the sea turtle conservation program on Balambangan Island is the rampant exploitation of sea turtles, especially harvesting sea turtle eggs for the illegal trade. The sea turtle egg poaching is done massively by the culprits leaving no eggs at all in the nest.


"Before the YPI Rangers are deployed on Belambangan Island, there were almost no sea turtle eggs left, all of which were taken by hunters or poachers. But now the conditions have been much better because there are Rangers guarding them," said Bayu Sandi, Chairman of YPI.

The hard work has gained positive results with a drastic decrease in the number of sea turtle egg poaching. Only in a period of less than 6 months, from February to July 2019, at least 748 nests have been saved, this means that 74,800 turtle eggs survived. Assuming by 80% success of the natural hatching, there are at least 59,840 hatchlings that have been rescued.


© 2003 - ProFauna Indonesia

ProFauna Indonesia is an Indonesian society for the protection of
wild animals and their habitats