20 Feb 2012

Small-scale conservation in PNG helping save giant turtles

8:23 pm on 20 February 2012

A Papua New Guinea marine conservation organisation says local efforts to preserve the endangered leatherback turtle are paying off.

Leatherbacks are the world's largest turtles, reaching up to two metres long and 900 kilograms in weight but fishing and pollution are among factors that have cut their numbers.

The national co-ordinator of the non-governmental organisation Mas Kagin Tapani says the turtles migrate from Costa Rica, Mexico and California to lay their eggs along PNG's northern coastline.

Wenceslaus Magun says Mas Kagin Tapani, which means sea steward, has been working for six years to change the mindset of PNG people.

"Through their habitual slaughtering of turtles, killing and eating, harvesting of their eggs, they have realised that the number of turtles has dwindled. Now since 2006 until now, they slowly are protecting the turtles and they can see that the number is gradually increasing and to them, this is amazing."

Wenceslaus Magun says no one knows how many turtles are left but some communities are seeing them for the first time in a decade.