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10,000 turtle eggs seized

AFP

Conservation

turtle eggs

Malaysian police have seized the biggest haul of black market endangered turtle eggs in history.

Credit: AFP/Star Publication

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia police said on Tuesday they have seized a massive haul of 10,000 endangered turtle eggs which were destined for sale in food markets on Borneo island.

Muhammad Sallam Spawi, marine police chief in Sandakan city on the northeast coast of Malaysian Borneo, said the eggs were thought to have been smuggled from nearby islands in the Philippines.

"This is the biggest haul for us in history. These are eggs from endangered species of turtles and were to have been sold at the Sandakan market," Muhammad Salam said.

"Our investigations have revealed that a syndicate obtained the eggs from several islands in the Philippines," he said.

Marine police on Sunday raided a beach in Sandakan, in Sabah state, after receiving a tip-off. In October they seized 3,000 turtle eggs in the same area.

Four smugglers were unloading the eggs from a speed boat when police arrived. The smugglers panicked and escaped in the boat, leaving 20 sacks of eggs behind.

Turtle eggs are sold openly in Malaysian markets and fetch a price of up to 2.80 ringgit (0.80 US cents) each, despite legislation banning their sale or consumption in Sabah state.

"There is a huge demand among locals and the eggs are easily available. We are constantly doing raids and apprehending irresponsible traders," Muhammad Salam said.

He said the eggs had been handed to the local wildlife department which will identify the species and try to salvage them.

"The eggs which fail to hatch will have to be destroyed," he said.

Malaysia was once the scene of massive numbers of turtle nestings along its shoreline, but development as well as widespread plundering of eggs has caused the numbers to plummet in recent years.