This year, the number of River Terrapin hatchlings released into the Kemaman river increased, thanks to the efforts of the locals, known as “Terrapin Guardians”.
Approximately 800 members of the public were at the banks of Kemaman River to witness and participate in the annual terrapin release event organised by the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS).
This year, a total of 1,035 eggs were collected for incubation, compared to 668 eggs collected last year. This increase was due to the increased cooperation from the villagers of Kg. Pasir Gajah who are affectionately known as the ”Terrapin Guardians,”. These villagers have diligently worked to protect river terrapin eggs along the Kemaman River, spanning four river banks.
A total of 638 river terrapins successfully hatched and all hatchlings were cared for and nurtured for a period of 4-5 months. Subsequently, 300 of these hatchlings (150 compared to last year) were released into the Kemaman River on 7th October, contributing to the conservation and preservation of this endangered species.
That morning, TCS and the Kumpulan Rukun Tetangga (KRT) jointly organised a carnival at Kg. Pasir Gajah. The event featured a “sukan rakyat” (local sports) for both the local community and the general public to enjoy. Additionally, there were creative activities such as a jewellery box decoration workshop for adults and a beaded bracelet workshop for children. Free health screenings were also made available to the public.
Various turtle conservation organizations, including Lang Tengah Turtle Watch (LTTW), the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), and the Sea Turtle Research Unit (SEATRU) of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) participated by putting up their own exhibitions. Carnival participants who recycle their clean, empty plastic bottles were also able to redeem Watson brand gifts that day.
In his speech, Y.B. Mohd. Hafiz Adam, ADUN Air Putih, reiterated the importance of protecting our critically endangered terrapins and commended the efforts of the Society and the local communities. Also present at the event was Mr. Danny Hoh, General Manager for Marketing and Customer Growth for the Watsons Brand, who presented a mock cheque to Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok, Executive Director of TCS.
“Watsons Malaysia, the No.1 O+O Health and Beauty Retailer in Malaysia, is consistently at the forefront of planet-saving initiatives. We have recently embarked on an effort with TCS, releasing hundreds of turtles over the weekend and contributing RM43,500 to support conservation efforts.
“Additionally, Watsons customers can participate in this program by purchasing Naturals by Watsons Prestige Rose Body Scrub from October 3rd to 30th, 2023. For every purchase, RM1 will be donated to help TCS sustain their conservation work,” said Danny Hoh, General Manager of Marketing & Customer Growth and Sustainability Champion.
The River Terrapin is a critically endangered freshwater turtle species in the world, and it is found only in Cambodia and Malaysia. It is listed as a “Totally Protected” species in the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. In Peninsular Malaysia, they are found only in Kedah, Perak and Terengganu. This species is not found in Sabah and Sarawak.
The River Terrapin Conservation Project in Kemaman was initiated by TCS in 2011, with support from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN), and the local villagers from Kg. Pasir Gajah. To date, more than 8,220 eggs have been saved from human consumption, and more than 4,500 head-started hatchlings have been released into Sg. Kemaman.
Watch the video below to see terrapins marching to freedom.