Dr. Chan Eng Heng

Dr. Chan Eng Heng was born in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. She received her Ph.D. in 1993 under the RONPAKU scholarship programme of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and her M.Sc. and B.Sc (Hons) degrees from Universiti Sains Malaysia. She recently retired from from her post as Professor in Universiti Malaysia Terengganu where she co-founded and led the Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU), later renamed Turtle Research and Rehabilitation Group (TRRG) from 1985 to 2009.

With a wild desert tortoise in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona. Sept. 2008

Chan is well known, both locally and abroad for her contributions in the field of turtle research, conservation and education. The recognition of her expertise is reflected in the various appointments at the national, regional and international levels accorded to her. She has also served as turtle expert in numerous regional and international sea turtle workshops, besides having been invited as guest/plenary/keynote speaker at numerous conferences and seminars. Her current positions are listed below:

  1. Member, Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, Species Survival Commission, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (membership by invitation)
  2. Field Conservation Committee Member (South East Asia), Turtle Survival Alliance, USA (by appointment)
  3. Country Representative, Editorial Board, Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter (by appointment)
  4. Technical Advisor, Joint Management Committee, Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (by appointment from Sabah Parks)
  5. Member, Marine Turtle Specialist Group, Species Survival Commission, International Union for the Conservation of Nature (membership by invitation)

Chan has been carrying out research and conservation work on turtles for the last 20 years and is still going strong. She has published extensively, and her contributions in marine turtle conservation were recognized by the United Nations Environment Programme when she was conferred the UNEP Global 500 Roll of Honour in 2001 and in 2006 she was listed in the UNEP’s Who’s Who of Women and the Environment. As early as 1990, she was recognized for her contributions in sea turtle research and conservation in Terengganu and was accordingly conferred the title “PJK” by the late Sultan of Terengganu in that year.

Many of her works have been applied directly in the conservation of turtles in Malaysia, either to enhance existing efforts, or to develop new approaches in protecting turtles. Her publications were cited extensively in the report of the WTO (World Trade Organization) Panel on the United States – Import Prohibition of Certain Shrimp and Shrimp Products, WT/DS58/R, 15 May 1998.

Chan’s work on sea turtles has been featured in both local and foreign TV programmes, such as “Beyond 2000”, Fox Family Channel’s “World Gone Wild”, NHK’s “Meeting a New Asia”, Momentum II’s “Our Scientists and Inventors” and TV3’s “Majalah 3” and “Malaysia Hari Ini (MHI)”.

Chan is also known for endearing turtle conservation to the hearts of the common public by her innovative “Save our Turtles Outreach Programme” (popularly called STOP) carried out under the Turtle Research and Rehabilitation Group in Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. STOP involved the public directly in turtle conservation efforts through nest and turtle adoption schemes and a volunteer programme. STOP has been highly publicized, as attested in the 30-odd media articles on the programme.

Details on Chan’s various contributions can be viewed by clicking on the following:


  1. At a vantage point of Turtle Rock Hike, one of the most enjoyable activities in the Turtle Volunteer Program in Chagar Hutang, Redang Island. The volunteer program was initiated in 1998 as a public outreach project. The Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary managed by Chan from 1993-2009 is in the background. 2007.
  2. With a BBC producer and presenter in the Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary. 2007.
  3. Trying out a new way of protecting turtle nests in Chagar Hutang. Found to be effective for hawksbill nests that are shallow and easily excavated by monitor lizards. 2006.
  4. Happily showing off the very first two river terrapin hatchlings that emerged at 5.30 am, 24 April 2006 in Pasir Kumpal, Dungun River. I had endured a night of chilling winds to monitor the emergence of hatchlings from the in-situ nests.
  5. During a volunteer reunion held at the Aquaria KLCC in 2007.
  6. Releasing river terrapins in Pasir Pak Lah Teh, Setiu River, with sponsors from Australia, Taiwan and Johor. 2007.