Malaysian authorities will investigate the theft of almost 4,000 eggs of the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle from its nesting grounds recently.
Malaysia's southern state Malacca chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said he wanted answers as to how the eggs from about 30 turtle nests along the Kuala Sungai Baru and Linggi coastline near here could be stolen over the past month.
"I will ask the exco (state council) member in charge of agriculture and rural development and fisheries department to look into the matter," the Star daily quoted the chief minister as saying.
Mohd Ali said investigations would also determine if the eggs were sold to individuals or businessmen.
Malacca state fisheries department had reportedly roped in several Rela personnel since Tuesday to carry out night patrols along the coast near the Padang Kamunting Turtle Hatchery in Pengkalan Balak.
There are concerns that the thefts will increase during the nesting period between May and September.
It is illegal to collect turtles eggs without a permit from the department and those found guilty under the Fisheries Act 1985 can face a fine of up to RM1,000 per egg.
Malacca has the largest number of Hawksbill turtle landings in Malaysia, surpassing Terengganu and Sabah. There are currently 23 landing sites along the coast of Malacca.
Based on records, a total of 297 turtle landings with 36,101 eggs were recorded in 1996. The number rose to an all time high of 390 landings with 45,345 eggs in 2007.