KOTA KINABALU, Nov 4 — Sabah conservationists are fuming over a photograph posted on Facebook that purportedly shows federal minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and several others being served protected turtle eggs at what appears to be an Umno event in Sandakan.

The photograph, which does not show Ismail Sabri actually consuming the eggs, created a stir on the social networking site when it was posted earlier today on the personal page of Alexander Yee, the owner of the Taman Hadiah turtle hatchery on Libaran island.

When contacted by Malay Mail Online, Yee said the offending photograph was first posted on his Walai Penyu Resort Libaran Facebook page two weeks ago by an anonymous user who goes by the name “Deadturtles Sabah”.

“Last night it was posted again so I thought I better act on it,” he said, adding that he drew attention to the photograph by reposting it to his personal account.

In the photograph, Ismail Sabri, who is rural and regional development minister, is seen seated at a dining table with seven others, including Beluran Umno division chief and Sugut assemblyman Datuk James Ratib, at what is believed to be Restoran Indah Keranamu in Sandakan. On the “Lazy Susan” in front of them, there is a large plate of turtle eggs and another dish, although judging from their clean plates, the group does not appear to have begun their meal.

“As someone who has been doing conservation and in particular turtle conservation on Libaran Island, it’s a sad day.

“I can understand if people are ignorant to it. But not those guys in the picture,” Yee said.

He also claimed that he recognised one of the men in the photograph as a senior official with the Sandakan Municipal Council, and that the latter had only recently attended the launch of an anti-turtle egg initiative.

“West Malaysia does not have laws governing or prohibiting the consumption of turtle eggs but Sabah has.

“The fact that Sabahan leaders are the hosts and they still disregard the law, is alarming and sad,” Yee said.

Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) director Dr Benoit Goossens who reposted the photograph on his website said he was outraged and disgusted by the actions of those in the picture.

“What kind of message are the restaurant and the people consuming those turtle eggs are sending to the next generation, to Sabah people, to all of us working hard to conserve and protect wildlife in our beloved Sabah?