It was surprising to learn of Hermanto’s past. The 44-year-old used to be a thug in his village. However, he is polite
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Indonesia set up a turtle monitoring camp on Paloh Beach in Sambas
regency, West Kalimantan, in 2012. The 63-kilometer beach provides a long stretch of land for turtle’s to lay their
eggs. Coming across the turtles was a turning point for Hermanto, who is better known as Pak Tam.
“Before 2012, I hunted turtle eggs for my own consumption or to sell them. If there was a turtle caught in the fish net, I
would kill it and cook it,” he said.
Pak Tam later joined a group set up by the WWF along with his friends Junaidi and Andi Priansyah. The group was
tasked with monitoring the turtles and ensuring their safety to prevent the theft of turtle eggs.
May to October is the busiest time of the year as that is the period when turtles lay eggs. Many people also pay a visit
to watch the turtles lay eggs.
Turtles usually come out to the beach at night. There should not be any disturbances. The number of visitors should
be limited to, ideally, below 10 people.
Pak Tam and his colleagues have to monitor their activities and make sure they don’t disturb the turtles.
WWF Indonesia has protected the turtles in the area since 2009. It has been a great challenge amid the prevalence
of turtle hunters.
The guards can only monitor 19.3 km of the beach. Only 10 km has been designated as a conservation area and is
fully monitored. From around 1,000 turtle hatchlings released to the wild, only one survives until they reach 30 years
of age and are ready to spawn.
Turtle egg hunters continue their attempts to poach eggs as the price for each egg stands at Rp 3,000 (20 US cents)
to Rp 5,000. If the eggs are smuggled to Malaysia, prices can reach 2.5 ringgit (US 60 cents).
The conservation program is needed to help prevent the turtles from going extinct. This is where Pak Tam and his
colleagues have a great role. [yan]