KOTA KINABALU - Wildlife officials suspect that syndicates are behind the killings of turtles in Semporna, Labuan and Kudat in the last two months as they have found few leads on the incident.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said yesterday that there was growing suspicion that syndicates were involved.
"It did not look like the work of local fishermen or villagers," he said.
Dr Laurentius said they were still gathering information over the killings.
"When we asked fishermen around the areas, they said they do not know anything. When we ask the larger fishing companies, they say they only use nets which allows trapped turtles to escape," he added.
Dr Laurentius said some companies even said that they used turtle excluder devices to ensure that none were trapped and killed when they go fishing.
"We are concerned. It looks like there's a syndicate here that is killing our turtles for commercial reasons," he added.
In March, 60 turtle carcasses were found strewn in separate locations around Pulau Tiga in northern Kudat.
Four more green turtles were found in Semporna on April 17, followed by two hawksbill turtle carcasses in Labuan four days later.
Dr Laurentius said wildlife officials and the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry would discuss with members of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) on ways to prevent syndicates from carrying out their activities.
On the seven-metre whale shark that died after being caught in fishing nets near a coastal resort in Kota Belud district on Sunday, Dr Laurentius said: "The villagers had already buried it when we arrived about two days later. So, we will leave it there for now."