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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 April 2006, 08:09 GMT 09:09 UK
State drops rare turtle as mascot
by Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

A leatherback turtle (Image: Matthew Godfrey)
Leatherbacks are close to extinction in the Pacific, scientists warn
A Malaysian state is to drop its symbol and sports mascot - the turtle - amid allegations by conservationists of embarrassment at the creature's demise.

Three of the four species for which Terengganu is known, including the giant Leatherback, are on the verge of extinction in the Pacific.

The state's chief minister said the new mascot - a clown fish - was "more agile and dynamic".

But a conservationist said: "He prefers it because it's not dead".

Back in the 1960s, 10,000 Leatherbacks would land on the state's beaches to lay their eggs each year.

But recently, only two or three have made an appearance.

Although Terengganu has set up a number of turtle sanctuaries, officials have decided to change its mascot rather than step up conservation efforts.

Little action is taken over the selling of the reptile's eggs in local markets and they have also suffered from the effects of deep sea fishing.

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