Borneos is home not only to the world’s largest fish, whales and dolphins but also the world-famous and iconic sea turtles, and they are all in danger of disappearing.
The plight of the sea turtles is well documented and is one of the main reasons the country’s population is so critically low, said John Molloy, chief executive of the marine mammal conservation group WWF-Borneo.
But with the number of people visiting the islands plummeting, it’s not clear what to do about the threats to the animals.
“The situation is not as bad as it used to be,” said Mollox.
“We have some of them but not enough to do anything about them.”
Sea turtles can be found in a number of habitats around the world, including in Borneu, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
The animals can be spotted around the islands and in the Pacific Ocean, where they live in deep-water habitats such as reefs, coral reefs and underwater vegetation.
However, while the number and range of marine turtles have been rising over the past 20 years, the number is falling, said Mokkang Kwaikwa, an ecologist at WWF-Indonesia.
The declining numbers have led to a decrease in the habitat for the animals, and this has led to some species of fish being caught by fishing boats, said Kwaika.
This in turn has caused a rise in the numbers of sea turtles to threaten the animals with extinction.
“What we are seeing is a really dramatic decline in the number, the range and the population,” Kwaiki said.
“The turtles are disappearing, but they are not coming back because they are too big and big fish are catching them.”
It is estimated that between 250 and 500 of the species of marine turtle are living in Indonesia.
Many of these turtles are found in shallow-water habitat where they are unable to survive.
Molloy said that while it is difficult to estimate the number that remain, the situation is getting worse.
“There are now about 2,000 turtles in the wild, which is a decrease of about 1,000 per year, which means that the numbers are not increasing,” he said.
“The problem is that the turtles are not going to be able to survive if there are not enough people to take care of them.”
Borneos has an estimated 10,000 sea turtles and about 100,000 freshwater turtles, making it one of Indonesia’s biggest marine parks.
WWF-India said the problem was exacerbated by poor infrastructure and the fact that the turtle population is growing so fast.
“Indonesian people are not being trained on the management of turtles.
They are not really aware of the threat and the consequences,” said Nanda Khait.
Mollox said the situation in Bora Bora has become so dire that the government had to ask the Indonesian government to pay for some of its staff.
The Government of Indonesia said it is in talks with WWF-China to see how the company can help in the management and conservation of the turtles, but said that it was “very difficult” to predict how long it will take to get involved.
“So we are looking at what options we can offer the government,” said WWF-Australia’s general manager of marine conservation, John Raine.
The WWF-Japan, WWF-UK, WWF India, WWF Bornea and WWF Biosciences have all said that they will continue to support efforts to protect marine turtles, even if the government does not.