Ramadan cheer for captive terrapins

Written by Dr. Chan Eng Heng

Dr. Chan is a co-founder of TCS. She is a retired Professor who had spent more than 30 years studying marine turtles in the country.

11 Sep 2009

Date: 11 September 2009
By: Sean Augustin
Source: The New Straits Times

SETIU: As fishermen prepared to break their fast on Wednesday, 99 river terrapins raised in captivity had their first taste of freedom.

The release of the 3-year-old terrapins into Sungai Setiu marked the first ever Terrapin Independence Day declared by the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC).

Twenty of the micro-chipped terrapins have also been adopted by supporters.

They had been “adopted” for RM99 each to raise RM2.5 million to build the centre.

The TCC website, www.turtleconservationcentre.org, was also officially launched.

Just as heartwarming as the sight of the terrapins scurrying down the river bank at Tebing Pasir Pak Lah Teh was the participation of 25 residents, mostly fishermen, from three villages.

Kampung Beris Tok Ku Coastal Fishermen’s Alliance chairman Malek Yunus said the release was especially meaningful because it came during Ramadan.

“I’m proud I took part in the event because if we do nothing the river terrapin will die off. I also helped care for them so I feel like they are my own children,” he said.

Teacher Alias Mohamad thought the event was a good learning experience, and he was impressed by the participation of both young and old.

“I really hope more events like this can be organised.

“Hopefully next time I can bring my students. Even my children have never seen terrapins before.”

TCC co-founder Prof Chan Eng Heng said this year alone close to 200 river terrapins had been released into Sungai Setiu with more to be released by the end of the year.

Chan was also pleased with the participation of the fishermen, many of them first-timers.

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