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Surviving through Turtle Conservation

11 November 2011

It was a cold morning, with the rain splashing on the windowsill and the wind blowing strongly outside. It was a good morning for sleeping in but for some 30 volunteers from Malakoff, nothing was more important than making sure the day’s program went smoothly.

The volunteers came from the surrounding Lumut and Pantai Remis, and as far as Kuala Lumpur to take part in the Turtle Awareness program, aptly called “Kenali Penyu, Sayangi Penyu”. The program, organized by a team from Malakoff Leadership Development Program (LDP), aimed to create awareness to the surrounding community on the function of Pusat Pengurusan Penyu Pasir Panjang (Turtle Management Center) or TMC, for short.

40 schoolchildren, accompanied by their teachers, were smiling and chatted cheerfully despite the cold and gloomy weather. These children were invited from Malakoff’s three adopted schools in Segari, Perak and a school from neighbouring Manjung, SK Seri Bayu.

After receiving goodie bags containing stationery sets, the children and teachers helped themselves to a light breakfast of nasi goreng, currypuff and tepung bungkus, before the start of the program.

Assistant Vice President of Technical Support Group, En Shokri Daud, in his opening remarks, expressed his hope that the children and local community who attended the program that morning were able to learn as much as they can from this inaugural event and return to their communities with better knowledge and awareness on the importance of TMC as a conservation initiative by Jabatan Perikanan Negeri Perak. He added that “Kenali Penyu, Sayangi Penyu” was the brainchild of LDP 2011 CSR Project Team HSE as a part of their contribution to the Commitment to the Environment, under the Malakoff Community Partnerships (MCP), Malakoff’s corporate social responsibility platform.

Representative from Jabatan Perikanan Negeri Perak, En Sallehuddin in his officiating speech, praised Malakoff for coming up with this brilliant program in creating awareness to the local community on the existence of the Center and in educating the schoolchildren about the importance of turtle conservation. He pointed out that the idea to create the Center in 1991 came about to ensure turtle eggs were protected from being sold or eaten by the locals. The Center is also vital in ensuring the eggs were hatched and the hatchlings were released into the sea to continue the turtle’s cycle of life.

"People need to be educated in order to better appreciate the significance of the turtles in the ecosystem, so that both men and turtles can co-exist.”

Fun-filled and educational activities awaited the schoolchildren, starting from a colouring contest followed by guided tour to the turtles’ hatchery, nursery tank and turtle pools by the program’s volunteers, consisted of Malakoff staff. The children were attentive all through the guide as they would be quizzed later on the facts and figures about the turtles at the Center.

The highlight of the visit and the most anticipated segment of the program was the release of turtle hatchlings into the sea by the children and volunteers. Volunteers, teachers and schoolchildren held and posed with the hatchlings before releasing them into the sea.

Undeniably, there was a slight feeling of sadness as they watched the hatchlings made their way with their cute flippers on the beach and washed away into the sea by the strong current of the waves. Some of them were quietly praying that they hatchlings will survive the unforgiving ocean, grow and return to the beach of Pasir Panjang to lay their eggs in future.

Teacher of Sekolah Kebangsaan Segari, Cik Rashidah expressed her gratitude and appreciation to Malakoff for organizing such program. “This program is an eye-opener to me, personally and to the students on the importance of turtles to the ecosystem. Humans have damaged and endangered them in many ways. It is recommended that such program is continued and extended to the locals to create more awareness on turtles and this Center.”

The excited faces of the children, getting a chance to touch and hold the hatchlings, and in awe of the gentleness of the creature, were priceless. The volunteers were happy that the efforts that they put in into making the program a success were worthwhile.

Mohd Nizam Baharin, the program’s project leader, was relieved that the program went as planned, despite the spots of rain that morning.

“We were here two weeks earlier for a gotong royong to spruce up the buildings and vicinity of the Center. The gotong royong is part of our small contribution to the Center in making it more comfortable for the visitors.”

He added that during the planning and execution of the program, the team members and volunteers learnt a lot about the turtles and together with the Center’s management committee, they hoped that this program will be an on-going effort to educate more people on the importance of turtles, hence the tag line “Kenali Penyu, Sayangi Penyu” was chosen as the program’s title.

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