A local endangered and endemic species expert Mark Kalotap says the delicious coconut grab is on the list of endangered species which means, the country is going to run out of the delicacy if no drastic steps are taken to protect it from extinction.
This is due to its high demand by restaurants and hotels and one single coconut crab takes a long time to grow to its minimum size for harvest.
The expert is hired by the Government to review the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Review Project or NBSAP.
The National Strategy Plan was developed 1999. “Basically it means everything that exists on land and in fresh water and in the sea. My job is to review this plan”, he explains.
While we will carry an article on our interview with Kalotap in a separate article, his warning on the plight of the coconut crab needs to be told.
He says the biggest challenge faced by those who have coconut crabs on their land is that if it is not managed properly, they will wake up one day to find the coconut crab has been wiped out due to its high value and negligence by local authorities to control its harvests.
The following is a true story from coconut farmer in Torres over twenty years ago, who successfully nurtured his coconut seedlings to become a healthy coconut plantation.
After all his unsuccessful attempts to plant his coconut seedlings in his new plot, he and his wife went to the clearing and sat up night after night to slaughter all the giant coconut crabs that invaded the plot every night to dig up and feed on the nuts.
After killing all the coconut crabs in the vicinity of his farm, his seedlings started to grow and finally they started bearing flowers.
Smiling with glee, he took my brother in law missionary to his plantation and said smiling, “See my healthy coconut trees, aren’t they beautiful?”
“Yes they are beautiful my friend. But what is special about your plantation?”.
“Well, the coconut seedlings started to grow only after my wife and I successfully killed all those pests that kept digging up the seedlings up to feed on them. They smelled so bad that we avoided coming here until they smelled no more.”