Giving turtles a helping hand

Aiding nature: Van Zevenbergen inspecting the nests at the Tanjung Jara beach resort hatchery. — ZABIDI TUSIN

DUNGUN: For the first time, hundreds of tiny green turtle hatchlings floundered, stopped and crawled their way into the South China Sea after being released from private hatcheries here.

They were all washed by the tides into the ocean after being helped into the sea by the hands of volunteers from Lang Tengah Turtle Watch (LTTW) and YTL Hotels.

Having released over 8,000 turtle hatchlings since its inception three years ago, LTTW expanded its operations on Saturday in a joint initiative with YTL Hotels’ award-winning Tanjong Jara Resort.

The venture unveiled a new conservation unit and turtle hatchery named “Lang Tengah Turtle Watch at Tanjong Jara Resort” and released another 300 green turtles.

The project strives to protect sea turtles by monitoring turtle landings and saving their eggs from poachers.

YTL Hotels executive vice-president Carl Kono said in keeping with the YTL Hotels ethos, Tanjong Jara Resort has continually aspired to embrace a proactive role in preserving the beauty of its natural environment, protect the local wildlife and raise awareness.

“The turtle hatchery, located on the beach fronting Tanjong Jara Resort, will offer guests the chance to discover more about these magnificent creatures, learn about the dangers they face and conservation efforts made to protect hatchlings from poachers and return them to their natural habitat in the sea.

“Guests will also be able to subscribe to a nest adoption programme, where a pledge of RM300 for a clutch of 50 to 99 turtle eggs or RM500 for 100 to 150 turtle eggs will save a nest from being sold as food to the marketplace.

“YTL Hotels has constantly been in support of conservation initiatives through its luxury properties with resident naturalists and a marine biologist helming the ecological endeavours,” he said.

Meanwhile, LTTW co-founder Raphe van Zevenbergen said the organisation exemplified what can be achieved when enterprising private owners and corporations use their independence to take control of a conservation issue on their own property.

He added that to date, this new project has seen the release of 693 hatchlings from nine out of the current 24 nests.

Van Zevenbergen said the turtle hatchery, constructed using a simple wooden trellis, allowed guests a view of the nests while keeping predators at bay.

He also urged the authorities to continue supporting the initiatives.

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