Previously known as Pulau Kedapil, Pulau Pandanan is one of 49 islands found in the Semporna Priroty by conservation Area (PCA). The 10 acre islands surrounded by coral reefs and pristine sandy beaches is home to only one local Bajau family with 10 members, and an army base. Datu Panglima Ahmad and his family have been staying on the island since 2002, and have been engaged in WWF-Malaysia’s Semporna PCA turtle conservation programme since November 2009. The programme is funded by WWF-Netherlands, the Hupkes Family and the Adessium Foundation for the initial three years.
In his youth, Datu Panglima Ahmad and his father used to collect turtle eggs for income. Having studied at fisheries institutes in Peninsular Malaysia for three years, Datu is experienced in turtle biology and management, which gives him knowledge in turtle conversation on Pandanan Island.
Since WWF-Malaysia began working with Datu in 2008, his family has given continuous support and participated in WWF-Malaysia activities such as awareness talks, beach clean-ups and workshops.
Datu Panglima Ahmad sees pollution, artificial lighting, destructive fishing and collection of eggs for sale as threats to marine turtles in Semporna. He has stopped collecting turtle eggs for sale or comsumption and has spread awareness among his family on the importance of conserving these ancient mariners. His two daughters now patrol the island until midnight to find turtles. His wife, Noor Hajijah binti Ogos, said “ it shows how treasures to converse.”
The reefs of Pandanan have subjected to destructive fishing, such as fish bombing and cyanide fishing. Now, with the presence of the army as reinforcement, Datu Panglima Ahmad is committed to protecting the island to deter destructive fishing activities. He hopes the reefs and fish population will recover. Datu has a goal for Pulau Pandanan to recover its old glory of having lots of turtle nesting, beautiful corals and bountiful fish. He support sustainable ecotourism in collaboration with resort operators and aims to elevate his family’s standard of living. Datu’s efforts show the importance of local community participation in resource usage. This is one of WWF-Malaysia Semporna PCA project’s goals towards achieving sustainable resource management through sustainable fisheries and ecotourism, while maintaining its ecological integrity, for the benefit of current and future generations.