Adult size: 45 – 62 cm
Adult weight: 20 – 36 kg
Sexual maturity: ~ 22 years
Listed as one of the top 25 most critically endangered freshwater turtles and tortoises in the world.
Only found in southern Thailand, Cambodia and Peninsular Malaysia.
Wildlife Conservation Act:
Totally Protected species
Threats: Consumption of eggs, indiscriminate fishing gears, habitat destruction (i.e. sand mining)
Hatchling shell length: 5.2 – 8.4 cm
Hatchling body weight: 60 – 89 g
Number of female terrapins micro-chipped since 2011
Number of terrapin eggs saved from human consumption
Number of terrapin hatchlings produced
Number of head-started terrapins released into the Kemaman River
FROM POACHERS TO PROTECTORS
A 3-minute video by Our Better World, Singapore International Foundation
Vicki Treadell CMG, MVO, British High Commissioner to Malaysia said:
“Dr. Chen has done a great deal on the research and conservation of turtles particularly river terrapins. She has also earned respect for educating, motivating and empowering local communities and children to conserve turtles. Her passion and dedication truly embody the spirit of volunteerism. I am pleased that she is made Malaysia’s Commonwealth Point of Light.”
This is Pak Wazel. He is 56 years old this year. He has 10 children and 9 grandchildren. His youngest son is now 17 years old.
Pak Wazel originates from Kuala Berang, about 2 hours from Kemaman. He was an odd-job worker before settling down in Kg. Pasir Gajah and starting a family. But because he was from a different village, he was regarded as a “nobody” here. A few years ago, when asked about him, local villagers would say, “Wazel? Which Wazel?
But after joining our terrapin conservation project, he is now known, not only in this village, but also in other communities, as “Wazel Tuntung.” This terrapin conservation project in Kg. Pasir Gajah has indirectly given him “an identity.”
This is Nurul Huda. She is 34 years old, and she has 2 children.
When we started this terrapin conservation project, we needed to do everything ourselves, from marking the terrapin hatchlings to weighing and measuring them, to recording the measurements.
Nurul was always at home taking care of her son, Adiq (in the background). We started teaching the her basic procedures to weigh and measure the terrapin hatchlings, and she subsequently helped us in our routine work.
The first time we paid Nurul an allowance of RM50 for her assistance, she had tears in her eyes. That was the first time she was paid to do anything in her life.
HAVE A PROJECT IN MIND?
We are looking for collaborators who are passionate, hard-working, proactive, results oriented, love good science and enjoy working with the local communities. There is much potential for turtle research in Malaysia but not enough scientists/ students studying them! If you have a project in mind and would like to collaborate with us, we are happy to discuss it further with you!