Celebrating World Turtle Day in Kemaman, Terengganu

Written by Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok

Dr. Chen is the co-founder of Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia. She currently heads the community-based River Terrapin Conservation Project in Kemaman, Terengganu, Malaysia.

21 May 2012

On Saturday, 19th May 2012, we celebrated World Turtle Day in a village in Kemaman, Terengganu, Malaysia. It wasn’t just another event, and it certainly wasn’t just another village.

In fact, a total of 200 one-month-old river terrapin hatchlings (Batagur affinis) were released into the river an inaugural World Turtle Day celebration in Kemaman, which was attended by about 100 villagers and visitors. These hatchlings were hatched from the River Terrapin Conservation Project carried out jointly by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan), TCS and the Village Development and Security Committee. As a result of the project, more than 1,200 river terrapin eggs were secured for incubation, of which more than 650 hatchlings have emerged. The remaining eggs are still undergoing incubation, and are expected to hatch by the end of May 2012.

Before the release event, participants of the Turtle Discovery Trip were briefed about the research and conservation project that TCS is carrying out in the Kemaman River, the status of these river terrapins as well as the threats that they face in and outside of the river.

After the briefing, we were all invited to some refreshments that were prepared by Wazir’s wife and daughter, Nurul. There were fried noodles, fish crackers, green bean soup, jelly and iced syrup.

At about 5:20 pm, a lorry arrived at Wazir’s house to transport the terrapin hatchlings to the river bank, about 1 km from his house. At the river bank, the adults and kids couldn’t take their eyes off the hatchlings and immediately everybody went into photo-taking mode. At about 6 pm, we released all 200 hatchlings into the Kemaman River.

We would like to thank Haji Mohd. Nor, the Village Headman, and En. Zaik, the Committee Secretary for arranging for a lorry to transport the river terrapin hatchlings to the river bank; as well as to Wazir and his family for preparing some not-very-light refreshments for us (there were a lot of food!).

Special thanks also go to our friends who made the trip from KL, i.e. Gerald, Jaclyn, Melanie, Marcus, Sze Ching, Jenny, Charmaine, Pui See, Martha and family, Jessy and family and Lim; Wee, who came from Kuala Terengganu; and Pelf’s Mum who came from Melaka.

Photo credit: Wee Seng Whatt.

More pictures of the celebration can be found on the TCS Facebook page as we share albums uploaded by our friends from KL.

Related Posts:

  1. Our friends from the village have also written an article on the terrapin release event on their community website. Read the article here (text in Malay).
  2. Martha blogged about the Turtle Discovery Trip and the release of the terrapin and green turtle hatchlings on her blog, Growing with Guidance.
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