Yayasan Pulau Banyak, a local non governmental organisation, started its activities in Pulau Banyak in 1994, when Mahmud Bangkaru visited the area and motivated the local community to start up conservation activities for sea turtles in Pulau Bangkaru, the main nesting site. With the first funding it was possible to protect the nesting beach from egg poaching and raise considerable awareness in the area regarding environmental issues.

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The programme integrated with a socio-economic programme and provided alternative income for the communities through small scale tourism. Unfortunately, with civil war in the Aceh region, the programme had to be put to a halt and its last activities stopped in 2001:

Egg poaching and trading returned in Pulau Banyak and community members reported that 10.000 turtle eggs were being collected per month for supplying markets based out of Sibolga. Although all turtle species are protected, there still exists trading in sea turtle products throughout Indonesia. In 2006, Maggie Muurmans, a Dutch sea turtle expert, took an interest in the nesting population of Pulau Banyak. Together with Mahmud Bangkaru, they revived Yayasan Pulau Banyak and with backing and financial support from new partners, the sea turtle monitoring programme on Pulau Bangkaru was set up once again. All staff, which runs the operations on a local level, is either from the archipelago or Acehnese. Some very prominent political leaders are member of the board of founders, which is advantageous in many of the activities.

Intensive beach patrolling and data collection on sea turtles

In November 2007, a patrol team, consisting of local community members and Acehnese, were trained in patrolling the beach. In February 2008, the first sea turtles in Sumatra were tagged in Pulau Banyak to monitor the nesting population and estimate population size. A tag return in January 2009 showed that some turtles move southwards along the coast of Sumatra. In June 2010 satelite tags were attached to two green turtles to follow part of their migration route. All egg poaching from the main nesting site has stopped and data already shows that Pulau Banyak’s nesting population is very important for Indonesia but also for other parts of the world.

Community support

Yayasan Pulau Banyak works closely with the locals of Pulau Banyak and supports community programmes such as eco-tourism programme development, English language, first aid training, cooking courses, education and teacher training programmes. Yayasan Pulau Banyak has currently undertaken a very successful Environmental Education programme in the region to raise awareness on coral reefs, rainforests and the ecological role of sea turtles as well as the importance to protect them. Other programmes that have been implemented have focussed on sustainable fishing and environmental mortgages. The sea turtle festival held in June 2010 was proven to be successful in terms of gaining more government and local support.

Partners in conservation

The organisation has been active in the region since 1997, and has therefore the full support from the peoples of the coastal communities in the area. Strong links have also been built between other NGO’s in the area working towards capacity building and livelihood development. Yayasan Pulau Banyak has managed to establish partnerships between several local and international organisations. Furthermore, a group of dedicated organisations and donors have allocated funds towards our cause. Without their support our work would not be possible.

For more information regarding the sea turtle conservation programme, please visit our blogging website: http://sumatranseaturtles.wildlifedirect.org or join our ‘Yayasan Pulau Banyak’ group on Facebook. You can also download our Newsletter from this website.

Newsletter March 20111

Trouble in Paradise!

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