INTERNATIONAL INITIATIVE TO HELP PACIFIC LEATHERBACK TURTLES BEGINS IN PNG

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 19, 2002 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---A new international initiative to save the Pacific leatherback turtle has started at the Kamiali Wildlife Management Area on the Morobe coast, Papua New Guinea.

A team of scientists from the United States of America traveled to Lababia village during the holiday season.

They joined resource managers and the local community to support the new initiative that could reverse the decline in leatherback turtle population.

Scientists have warned the leatherback turtle may be on the brink of extinction in the Pacific.

The discovery that the Papua New Guinea leatherbacks may migrate across the Pacific to spend time at feeding grounds off the North American coast led to the meeting at Lababia village.

It brought together scientists, resource managers and local community members from both sides of the Pacific.

The Village Development Trust has a project at Lababia to protect the leatherback turtles that go to the beach there to lay eggs.

Village Development Trust executive director Aung Kumal said the initiative has brought some recognition to its efforts in promoting the conservation of the natural resources of the area.

As part of the initiative the visiting American scientists are providing training on the latest methods of tagging the turtles, DNA analysis and feeding.

They trained community para-biologists and officers from the Office of Environment and Conservation, South Pacific Regional Environment Program and Village Development Trust.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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