Volunteer sea turtle conservation projects with Help Our Penyu in Terengganu, Malaysia. Saving the sea turtles of Terengganu.
Our aim is:
“to double Terengganu’s sea turtle nesting population by 2060 through EMPOWERING the people of Malaysia”
The sea turtles of Malaysia are becoming extinct species by species. Malaysia was once famed for its Leatherback Turtles but now the largest sea turtle species are virtually extinct from Malaysian waters, two other species of sea turtle the Olive Ridley and the Hawksbill are in a similar situation. Only the Green turtles have a significant population but have still suffered a significant population decline of 80% between 1950-2009.
The data collected during the programme will be used by WWF-Malaysia to assess the success of their hatchery in Kampong Mangkok, which is at the heart of the surveyed area and shared with relevant government departments, other conservation projects in Malaysia and the general public.
The aim of the project :
To establish an accurate turtle nesting population database in Terengganu.
The objectives of the Terengganu Turtle Expedition program are as follows:
1: Collect vital turtle population data which will be made public and given to all turtle conservation projects in Terengganu;
2: Support the local community, encouraging them to protect their environment;
3: Assist all turtle conservation projects in Terengganu;
The vision of the project is to have large sections of beach surveyed on a weekly basis through a network of interested volunteers and groups – villagers, resorts, schools and corporates, in addition to the HOPE volunteers.
The beaches of Terengganu are straight from a postcard. They are wide and long – in fact the 300km coastline of Terengganu is virtually unbroken beach. The beaches are fringed by coconut palms and various small villages and resorts can be seen dotted in between the coconut palms. On the beach you will meet local fishermen and fun-seekers as the sun sets. The beach faces due east so the sunrises are fantastic. We will be camping on the beach at night twice in the first week.
The village of Mangkok (directly translated into English it means ‘empty bowl’ so is used as slang for stupid) is a typical rustic east coast Malaysian village and its location is sheer bliss; with the sea to the east and the Setiu River to the west, the sunrises and sunsets cannot be beaten. The wooden stilt houses are dotted between coconut trees with the odd cow walking amongst them. The men mostly fish or collect turtle eggs and the women look after the homes.
The Perhentian Islands are renowned as being the most beautiful islands in Malaysia and welcome droves of tourists and backpackers each year. The waters are crystal clear and turquoise whilst the forests are lush green and teeming with life.
Your second week will be spent in the isolated bay of Tantung Tukah, which was HOPE’s first project site, at Bubbles Dive Resort and Centre. Bubbles is a resort which wants to spread its love of nature to its tourists. The resort was started by Ronnie, Pei See and Eric Ng who still run the resort along with two Aussies - Libby and Shrimpy (Eric). The beauty and the isolation from the outside world of the bay attracted them; it is undoubtedly the most beautiful bay in the Perhentian Islands. Another attraction was the Green Turtles which can be seen nesting on the beaches from March to September, with turtles nesting most nights May until July. Turtle hatchlings are released from June to October.
Turtle volunteering is the best way to not only gain an insight and play your part in sea turtle conservation but is also a great way to experience Malaysian culture. Turtles are ingrained into the Malay culture especially along the coast of Terengganu. No matter what you do, if you join one of HOPE’s turtle conservation volunteer projects your eyes will be opened to the wonderful Malay culture – be it in the small village of Perhentian island or whilst you passby rustic villages during the Walk for Turtles expedition.
Perhentian Turtle Conservation Project
Learn about the island environment and engage with tourists during your first week at Bubbles Dive Resort. Then live in the village, inspiring the villagers and their children to play their part in marine conservation, spread the word to tourists all around the islands and do all that during your second week whilst protecting the most important turtle nesting beach in the islands – Pinang Seribu.
Terengganu Turtle Expedition
Wake up to the most glorious sunrises, walk along beaches where few tourists have been, collect vital sea turtle population nest data and join the local villagers of Terengganu, Malaysia. This expedition is unique and no other tourists will experience what you will during this expedition. You will not only be able to help and conserve sea turtles in Terengganu but you will experience the essence of the problem to sea turtle conservation in Malaysia – egg poaching. This is a chance for you to glare face to face with the real issues and problems turtle conservationists face in Malaysia but also be a part of the efforts to conserve these majestic reptiles whom have been around since the time of the dinosaurs.
What skills do you need on this placement in Borneo?
If you are a non-Malaysian volunteer you will be starting your program at Bubbles Dive resort where you will learn about sea turtles, coral reefs and the forest of the Perhentian islands. This week will also involve nightly patrols of the sea turtle nesting beach at Bubbles and talking to the guests about sea turtle conservation. The purpose of this week is to first teach you about the environment and then help you to share your new knowledge to the guests so you can make the most out of your following weeks.
In the Village (weeks 2+)
The volunteers loved spending the night in the village in 2010 and the villagers started to see how they benefit from turtles financially. Therefore in 2011 after the intro week as a volunteer you will be based in the village providing direct financial benefits to the local villagers. It is so important the villagers see financial benefits from the a healthy sea turtle population and its this which will stimulate a love for turtles amongst the villagers.
Protecting Pinang Seribu
The beach at Pinang Seribu is only 50m long but with over 150 turtle nests per year it is the number 1 beach for sea turtle nestings in the Perhentian Islands. On a rota system each night volunteers (only volunteers based in the village) will guard this beach and collect data about the nesting turtles. The volunteers are assisting the Department of Fisheries by collecting this data and the sheer presence of volunteers deters the poachers. Volunteers will be accompanied by Help Our Penyu staff and a villager. You will be sleeping in tents among the rocks fringing the beach. PLEASE BE WARNED ONLY HELP OUR PENYU STAFF AND THE VILLAGER ARE ALLOWED TO APPROACH ANY POACHERS.
Turtles Need Trees and English Club
We had such great success with our fortnightly Turtles Need Trees Club in the pilot year 2010 that we will continue this program but also introduce a fortnightly English club as well. The clubs are a great way to engage the local school children on the island and help them to not only develop a love for the marine and island environment but also improve their English.
Tourists are one of the biggest problems for sea turtles in the Perhentian Islands. By educating the tourists about sea turtle and marine conservation you will help to reduce the following conflicts – harassing turtles (in the sea and whilst nesting), encouraging improper conduct (paying to release turtle hatchlings) and standing on corals. The info booth is portable and will be located at different beaches around the island.
Where does my money go?
The cost of your trip covers four main areas;
The administration and marketing are essential to the running of any project and ensures that you can find the project, you are well prepared for the trip, that you can have questions answered and the whole things works well.
Getting you safely to the project, ensuring you get fed, giving you a room at the project site and staffing the project is the other chunk of spending. This makes your experience enjoyable and ensures you work most effectively when you are at the center.
The remainder funds the community work. Your money helps to purchase materials, resources, medicines, food, pay for staff and any releases. The project exists because of you.
How do I go about booking my flights?
Please try to book your flights as far as possible in advance of your departure as flights become more expensive with time. We will provide you with some additional information in the 'Know Before You Go' pack that we send when we have received your deposit. If you have any difficulties feel free to contact our support team.
Do I need a mosquito net?
Volunteers sometimes leave behind their mosquito nets but we cannot guarantee availability so if in any doubt please bring your own.
Can I leave my old clothes behind?
If you are going to throw them away, please leave them with a project facilitator as old clothes are often appreciated by the local community
This code has been designed by Ecoteer after consultation with project coordinators and volunteers and has been adapted for the Terengganu Turtle Expedition. The code of conduct ensures all volunteers are aware of their obligations and responsibilities to the project, villagers and other volunteers. By accepting the intent of the code and through complying with its provisions, Ecoteer volunteers acknowledge their privileged status as representatives of Ecoteer within local communities. Failure to comply with the code may lead to the withdrawal of a person from a project.
Before you volunteer
Before you come on this expedition you must research about traveling in Malaysia and Malay culture. If you have any questions we are more than willing to talk with you;
You must buy yourself suitable travel insurance;
If you cannot join the expedition for whatever reason please contact us as soon as possible;
Whilst on the expedition
Listen to, and follow, the instructions of your expedition leaders;
On many of the days you will be waking up early – 5.30am. It is vital to the program that you are punctual.
You will be walking in the tropics. The temperature can exceed 40c so ensure you drink plenty of water and wear sun block;
VERY IMPORTANT - On days that you walk you will have a break during the hottest time of the day – 11am til 2pm. You are encouraged to bathe in the sea to help your body cool down BUT you are not allowed to sunbathe on the beach. Dehydration and heat stroke is a serious risk and all precautions must be taken to prohibit them;
VERY IMPORTANT - You will be walking and staying at traditional Malaysian villagers which are very devout Islamic communities. All participants must wear t-shirts and not small vests or bikinis or topless for the guys whilst walking or whilst staying in the village;
Whilst resting near or staying in villages you must wear t-shirts when in the sea or on the beach.
Whilst visiting the homes of the local villagers and at the school the males must wear trousers (not shorts) and the females long skirts or trousers. The most important thing is to ensure your knees are covered.
Display respect and courtesy for expedition staff, other volunteers, the villagers and tourists (whilst on Perhentian);
VERY IMPORTANT – Expedition goers must understand some cultural differences may disturb them, but their feelings should be kept under control. If they have a significant problem they should discuss this with the expedition staff who may help to explain more about the issue and act upon it suitably;
Overnight visitors are not allowed in your rooms;
Expedition staff and tourists are not allowed to have intimate relationships;
Respect the accommodation you are using and pay for any damage you may cause to the property;
Be aware that there will be no refunds for food/accommodation if you decide to go on trips or leave early;
Tardiness is not acceptable. Your full commitment to the project and initiative will help the project maintain a good reputation within the village communities. Your attitude towards cultural sensitivities will also play a major role in building this relationship.
Volunteers who do not turn up for work or refuse to participate in the daily work routine will be issued a warning, after which, they may be removed from the project without compensation.
The first week breakfast will be basic with porridge and toast being the staple as they provide good energy. For the lunches on days 2, 3 and 7 the HOPE staff will be cooking a simple meal consisting of rice, fish and vegetables. The other lunches and dinners in the first week will be taken either at local restaurants or with the ladies of PEWANIS who will cook you their local cuisine. The local cuisine tends to be spicy so PLEASE inform us if you do not like spicy food.
During the walking days we will provide you with water. We allocate two litres of water per 10km and the leader will take additional water.
We will continue to supply you with free water throughout the whole expedition.
During your second week you will stay at the Bubbles Dive Resort where you will be provided with three meals a day at the open-air restaurant. Each day for breakfast you can choose between cereals, egg on toast or the most favourite chocolate pancake. Lunch consists of either sandwiches, noodles or pasta. In the evening the meals get more traditional with rice being served with a chicken dish, a vegetable dish and an egg for all to share. You have access to free flow water, tea and coffee.
Laundry services are available at both Kg Mangkok and Bubbles Dive Resort. The cost of laundry is not included in the expedition
Malaysia is a country with lots and lots of rain with an annual rainfall of way over 2500mm in many areas. Humidity levels are extremely high at over 90%. If the sun is out, your clothes will dry in no time, but on a cloudy day, wet clothes, shoes, towels take very much longer to dry.
Bring clothes that are light and dry easily. Heavy downpours in Malaysia are really buckets emptying themselves over you, so be prepared to get soaked to the skin when you least expect it! Light material long sleeves and long pants are advisable for tree planting activity due to the weeds, undergrowths and insects that may be encountered.
Bring several changes of clothes that you don’t mind getting really mucky and dirty in as habitat restoration work involves clearing of undergrowth and weeds, mulching and tree planting. Other work at the school / in the community may involve painting, building or maintenance work.
Taking into consideration community sensitivities, clothes that cover the shoulders & cleavage and longer than the knees are a must when working in the village. The same is necessary when visiting local homes and schools.
This packing list is only a suggestion and by no means a complete or exhaustive list.
~ Photocopies of important papers such as passport, airline tickets and insurance documents
~ Money in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
~ Day bag / rucksack with waterproof cover or bring plastic bags
~ Waterproof bags to protect important items
~ T shirts, t shirts and more t shirts (thin ones are the best);
~ A few pairs of light weight trousers;
~ Swim wear;
~ Rash vest to wear in the sea;
~ Sun block – biodegradable is best – (Non-biodegradable sun block is one of the biggest killers of coral on the Great Barrier Reef – the best is called ‘Aloe up’ just Google it);
~ Small pillow for camping;
~ Red bulb torch (head torches are very useful);
~ Sandals or flip-flops;
~ Clothes that you do not mind getting dirty whilst replanting mangrove trees;
~ Good walking shoes or trainers (flip flops and sandals are not allowed in the jungle);
~ Water bottle;
~ A hat to keep off the sun;
~ Camcorder/Digital camera if possible to film turtles;
~ Underwater camera;
~ Books and mp3 players - to keep you occupied during time off;
~ Mosquito net;
~ Medicines – Anti-histamines, basic first aid kit, sunscreen, after sun, Diarrhoea medication and antibiotics and anti-inflammatory for ear, nose and throat problems. Peroxide and anti-bacterial Dettol can both be useful for cleaning out cuts as wounds quickly become infected;
~ MAXIS (which is also called hotlink) Malaysian Sim card – this network has the best coverage at the project site; we suggest you get RM30 of credit for 4 weeks;
~ Stationery like pencils, paper and story books to give to the children (OPTIONAL);
Most items are available in Malaysia at comparative prices. You can get almost anything from the hundreds of little shops and large shopping malls dotted all around Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are abundant in Kuala Lumpur and Kuala Terengganu
Cash is the preferred mode of transaction in small shops and some do not accept credit cards. Shops in the village carry extremely limited items and will only accept cash.
Destination Terennganu ~ Setiu River & Penarik ~ day visit Minimum no. of Persons there is a minimum of ten adoptions per trip Tour Commences from Kuala Terengganu town Room Type Room Description Facility & Activity setiu river and penarik hatchery Things to Bring Checklist Attire ~ Light cotton long sleeve and short sleeve tshirts, shorts, hat, sunglasses Essentials to get you through ~ mosquito repellent, sunblock lotion, heat rub for muscles ache, water bottle Nice to haves ~ camera and batteries, video cameras
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