Monday, August 09, 2010

X-rated egg rush in Terengganu

Monday August 9, 2010

KUALA TERENGGANU: Market traders here are openly selling endangered turtle eggs, much to the shock and dismay of the state authorities.

While the Pasar Payang central market traders are enjoying brisk sales of the Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas) eggs, State Agriculture and Agro-based committee chairman Ashaari Idris intends to get to the bottom of the illegal business.

“I am really shocked that the market traders are selling eggs collected from the beaches of Terengganu. Previously, they only sold eggs from Indonesia.

“We must catch the culprits supplying them,” he said.

Under the law, only licensed collectors are allowed to harvest the eggs which must be sold to the Fisheries Department, which then sends the eggs to incubators to be hatched.

Ashaari said he would direct his officers to check whether poaching was rampant as it could have a dire effect on the turtle landings on local beaches.

He also stressed that the belief that turtle eggs could improve sexual prowess was a myth. This, however, has failed to stop couples wanting to revive their flagging sex lives from buying the eggs.

Salleh Solat, who has been trading at the market for over two decades, said he had buyers from as far as Kuala Lumpur.

He sells the Green Turtle eggs at RM30 for a packet of 10 and said he could get double or triple the price during off-season.

“There is a huge demand for these eggs as they can also be used to treat asthma and backaches,” he claimed.

He added that he previously sold eggs supplied from Sabah and Indonesia but there was now a great demand for Terengganu eggs.

This was because the locally laid eggs can be obtained for sale within a few hours of collection and therefore fresher, compared with eggs from elsewhere which took about two weeks to reach here.

Salleh said he got his supplies from two agents, but declined to name them.

The endangered Green Turtle is the largest hard-shelled sea turtle in the world. Females lay their eggs at night in a process that takes two hours, each time laying 110 to 115 eggs.

The leatherback and Olive Ridley turtles are already said to be close to extinction in Terengganu while the number of Hawksbill and Green Turtles has also plunged drastically.

It has been reported that a leading cause for the decline of turtle species is egg consumption.

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