Thursday, May 29, 2008


Meet Johnny, the turtle man


While Johnny Appleseed planted apple seeds in the American wilderness and greened the land, Johnny alias Hasbullah Buis is helping to keep the turtle population thriving in the island wildlife parks off Sabah. Even after having worked for 23 years on Pulau Bakkungan Kechil, one of the three islands of the Pulau-Pulau Penyu Park, Johnny looks forward with enthusiasm to the dawn of a new day. “I have never felt bored with my work because the important thing is that I am able to help safeguard the turtles which come to nest in this park,” he told Bernama here. Having started work as a park assistant in 1985, he has progressed into a research assistant whose field of work covers Pulau Bakkungan Kechil and the other two islands, Pulau Selingaan and Pulau Gulisaan, making up some 1,740 hectares. Johnny’s work covers tagging turtles, transferring turtle eggs to the hatchery, maintaining the turtle hatchery, and releasing baby turtles into the sea. He said he has grown accustomed to living away from his family which occupies the staff quarters here. He is not alone on the island though. For company, he has seven other staff on Pulau Bakkungan Kechil, comprising a park ranger and six junior assistants. Johnny said their place of work was close to the Malaysia-Philippines border but none of them feared for their safety as there was a military post on the island. - Bernama