Malaysia: Terengganu villagers now see the need to save terrapins

Farik Zolkepli The Star 25 Sep 12;

THE struggle to save painted terrapins, an endangered species, is seeing a breakthrough with the release of 80 baby terrapins in Kampung Mangkuk, Setiu, Terrenganu.

The activity, organised by WWF-Malaysia, saw the involvement of more than 60 students from SK Mangkuk and villagers.

WWF Malaysia Terengganu Turtle Conservation team leader Rahayu Zulkifli said the organisation has been making headway in efforts to save the terrapins with the cooperation of local villagers.

“This activity show the support of the locals and their awareness of the importance of saving the terrapins.

“We have been going full force in doing studies to save the terrapins since 2009 but it would not have been possible without the locals,” she said recently.

She added that the event was all the more special with the presence of the students.

“It is important to spread awareness on terrapin conservation from young. The students’ participation means they can be educated on the importance of such conservation,” she said.

Rahayu said WWF’s buy-back scheme was one of the milestones in the effort to save the terrapins as well as turtles.

“The purchase of painted terrapin eggs and turtle eggs purchased from licensed egg collectors has been successful in protecting these eggs from being sold to the markets, and subsequently eaten.

“We managed to collect 10 nests in 2009 from Kuala Baru Utara and Mengabang Sekepeng near here but the number increased to 101 nests last year,” she said, adding that the hatching rate for last year was 78%.

Meanwhile, local fisherman Mat Rahim Mamat, 63, said he fully supported the effort to save the terrapins.

“The awareness on the need to save the terrapins has been growing over the last five years. I, along with other fishermen, now have the mindset to pass any eggs we may find to the WWF,” he said.

He added that the habit of eating turtle eggs was also slowly diminishing.

“We want the future generation to be able to see terrapins, so the fight to save it must begin now,” he said.

SK Mangkuk Year Six pupil Noralia Syafiqah, 12, said she felt fortunate to take part in the release of baby terrapins for the first time.

“The experience has made me want to protect them even more.

“I hope such events are held more in the future,” she said.