Kembara Media 2014 goes to 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.

22 Nov 2014

Date: 22nd November 2014
By: Stephanie Jong
Source: New Sarawak Tribune

Sampling raw and fresh honey, visiting a turtle conservatory and watching fireflies were part of an interesting trip for participants of the recent Kembara Media 1 Malaysia 2014 to Terengganu.

The week long visit started off with a stop at the Stingless Bee Honey and Propolis Project site, located at Kampung Pasir Gajah, Chukai, in Kemaman.

During their visit, members of various media organisations from across the country had the chance to sample raw and fresh honey produced at the farm. They were also given the opportunity to collect a small amount of raw honey from a honeycomb.

“The honey and propolis from Pasir Gajah’s production are high in quality and very nourishing, as their farming location is situated right next to the virgin forest at the edge of Bukit Beluia Cengal Rendang, Kampung Pasir Gajah,” said project spokesperson Mahairan Hassan.

“Bukit Cengal Rendang is surrounded by wild and natural plants, and is not exposed to environmental pollution. Furthermore, bee farmers have also planted a range of fruit trees, decorative landscapes, as well as shadings that enable multiplication of food source for their stingless bees.”

The bee colonies live independently by sucking up all kinds of flower nectars around their surrounding areas at any time, without having to be fed according to schedules by farmers. The honey and propolis of Pasir Gajah farm has been scientifically tested, and is certified with quality and nutrition.

To ensure purity and authenticity of their honey and propolis, the harvesting, retention, packaging, as well as distribution works are regulated and carried out by the Koperasi Warga Pasir Gajah Kemaman Berhad (KOWPAG) management themselves. Packaged ready honey and propolis can either be bought directly from the farm, or through a network of appointed authorised dealers.

After some sweet fun, the media entourage moved on to a turtle conservatory, set up by the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS), also in Kampung Pasir Gajah.

TCS is a non-governmental and non-profit Society that focuses on the research and saving of turtles, particularly freshwater turtles (and tortoises) in Malaysia. Since 2011, TCS has rescued more than 3000 turtle eggs. About 75 mother turtles have been micro chipped each, when they came to shore to lay eggs.

The Society currently leads two freshwater turtle research and conservation projects in the Setiu and Kemaman Rivers in Terengganu, with the co-operation and support from Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN), as well as several local communities along the rivers. TCS also carries out educational programmes for primary school students, particularly those in rural schools along the major rivers in Terengganu. Additionally, the Society conducts outreach programmes to cultivate concern for wildlife among the public.

Current undertakings carried out by the Society include studying the river terrapin nesting ecology, saving river terrapin eggs for incubation, head-starting river terrapin hatchings, releasing of terrapins into the river, monitoring growth of head-started and wild terrapins, participation of local communities in conservation projects, organising awareness programmes in local schools and resorts, as well as spreading awareness to the public through Turtle Discovery Trips and Turtle Alley.

During the trip, Kembara Media 2014 participants also spent a couple of hours at Sungai Yak Yah, Chukai, in Kampung Yak Yah, to watch the fireflies. It was a delightful experience as everyone eagerly looked out for fireflies. Finding them was not difficult at all as they lit up and flickered here and there.

Participants in groups of 10 took turns on a small river boat and rode around the stream for more firefly sightings. The fireflies lit up the bushes like lights on a Christmas tree. Some tried and succeeded in capturing one or two for fun before releasing. Indeed, it was an unforgettable experience.

One place not toured was the Kenyir Elephant Village (KEV), but members of media were given a rough idea about the sanctuary. Located at Sungai Telemong, near Terengganu’s upstreams, KEV was built on  a 256 hectare land. The shelter’s building structure, constructed in April 2012, still retains its natural features in order to cater to the wild elephants’ habitat.

The Village offers ample facilities for both elephants and tourists. There is an arrival hall, an information and ticketing counter, a cafe, a restaurant, public toilets, five lookout towers, five transit platforms, a suspension bridge, elephant sleeping wards, an elephant food store, elephant coach houses, a field for educational elephant shows, relaxation spots, as well as car and bus parking lots.

Among activities handled by people of KEV include elephant bathing sessions (at 11am, 2pm, and 4pm), educational shows for visitors (at 10.30am and 3.30pm), elephant rides, elephant feeding sessions, photo opportunity with elephants, and the suspension bridge walk.

Other notable trips were an overnight stay in a house boat in the middle of Lake Kenyir, and a visit to a songket weaving workshop where participants met with a few songket weavers under the Suri@Home Project founded by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).

At the end of the excursion, the media entourage were treated to an easygoing Media Night at a hotel restaurant in Kuala Terengganu. It was entertaining evening with plenty of prizes to be won in lucky draws and hampers to be taken home.

The Kembara Media 2014 was arranged to provide an opportunity for the government to promote development programmes that directly benefit the people, which will in turn benefit programmes implemented by the Central and State Governments. It was also to provide room for the State Government to clarify outstanding issues (if any) regarding the projects implemented, thus in hopes through media exposure and the publishing of accurate information, will clear general misconceptions that may arise.

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