|Conservation and consumption of sea turtle eggs in Redang Island, Peninsular Malaysia|
Poti, M. (2018). Conservation and consumption of sea turtle eggs in Redang Island, Peninsular Malaysia. MSc Thesis. Vrije Universiteit Brussel/Université Libre de Bruxelles: Brussel. 76 pp.
Sea turtles in Malaysia have faced serious population declines due to multiple anthropogenic stressors; one of the key stressors being the direct consumption of their eggs. On Redang Island, a primary nesting site for green turtles (Chelonia mydas) in Malaysia, turtle eggs have been consumed for centuries. In the past, the local community was dependent on the eggs for their livelihood through a licensed collection system. Owing to the precipitous decline in sea turtles, the main nesting beaches were protected as sanctuaries in 2004, prohibiting egg collection from these beaches. Between 1996 to 2014, a local awareness program was initiated for grade 5 school students (age 11 years) educating them on sea turtle conservation. At the end of the program the children pledged to stop consuming turtle eggs. Our study investigated the prevalence, influencing factors and impact of the awareness program on egg consumption. Respondent perceptions towards egg consumption and conservation were also explored. Data were collected through interviews in 73 households in the Redang village. Based on the respondents’ perceptions, our findings suggest that the consumption of turtle eggs has decreased since the initiation of protection measures. Using logistic regression, we found that older people and past egg collectors were more likely to consume turtle eggs. Attending the awareness program resulted in a significant decrease in egg consumption in the younger age groups. The perceptions towards the protection status of beaches were positive, primarily due to the locals recognising that turtle populations would go extinct without protection. Moreover, a rapid growth in the local tourism sector has served as an economic alternative to egg harvesting. The respondents recognised the importance of sea turtles for tourism. Future efforts should focus on restarting tailored awareness programs, targeted at all age groups and locals employed in the tourism sector.