Yes, there is. During the peak turtle nesting season, which is from early May until end of August each year, the Ma’ Daerah Turtle Sanctuary runs a weekly 3D2N program called “Weekend with the Turtles”. It starts on Friday evening and ends on Sunday morning. This program allows participants to spend 2 nights at the sanctuary, and participate in hands-on turtle conservation activities. These activities include assisting the rangers with beach patrolling along the 1.7km of nesting beach, observe nesting turtles, assisting with the transfer of eggs into the hatchery, monitoring hatchling emergence and assisting with their subsequent release on the beach, etc. An interactive and educational PowerPoint and video presentation will also be given so participants have a better understanding of turtle-related issues such as their ecological functions, life cycle, nesting behaviour, threats, etc.
The program costs RM 250 per person and this package includes a 3D2N stay at the basic but clean Ma’ Daerah longhouse. The price includes all meals throughout your stay, as well as a specially designed Ma’ Daerah t-shirt. At the end of the program, participants will also receive a certificate of participation.
How do you get to Ma’ Daerah? You can either drive to Kerteh town in Terengganu, or take a bus from the Hentian Putra bus station in Kuala Lumpur. Ask for a morning ticket to either Dungun or Kuala Terengganu, but please don’t forget to tell the driver to drop you off in front of the Kerteh McDonald’s (there is only one McDonald’s in Kerteh, so the driver should not miss it!). This is also the pick-up point for car drivers. Once you are there, give the facilitator on duty a call (you will be given his/her number beforehand) where you will be taken to the sanctuary in a 4-wheel drive vehicle. If you feel nervous about driving into the sanctuary with your own car (think rugged, windy, narrow dirt road), you may choose to leave your car at the Kerteh Police Station (at no fee).
In addition to the above, you can also assist by adopting a turtle or a nest at RM 150 and RM 100 respectively. All monies received under both the Turtle/Nest Adoption or Weekend with Turtle programs will be deposited into the Ma’ Daerah Trust Fund which will be used towards upkeeping and maintenance of the sanctuary, purchase of equipment, payment of workers’ salaries, etc.
NOTE: The “Weekend with the Turtles” program has been discontinued in 2010. For more information, please send your email to [email protected].
Rahayu joined WWF-Malaysia in 2003 as a Programme Officer working closely with the local villagers and fishermen around Kerteh and Paka on turtle conservation. Through sheer grit, sweat and tears, a local community group called Persatuan MEKAR was formed which has since established itself as the first and an exemplary community based organisation that advocates for turtle protection in the country. Her work scope has since expanded to include turtle and terrapin conservation in Setiu, and she now supervises 2 different project sites in Terengganu. Her hobbies include off the beaten track travels, photography, cycling, scuba diving and birdwatching. She shares the field house in Kerteh with her colleague and a fat cat.