The state government in Terengganu is committed to promoting the community-based tuntung (terrapine) protection project for edutourism of the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS) in Kampung Pasir.
Ariffin Deraman, Chairman of the Committee of State Tourism, Culture, and Information Technology, said that it is unique because the endangered species are not found in any other state but only here in Kedah and Perak.
“The terrapins need to be protected from becoming extinct. I am confident that the conservation work started at the kampung since 2011 will attract tourists with its uniqueness.
“We will continue supporting the efforts of the TCS to protect the terrapins for the sake of future generations.
“Most important is community participation, which determines the success of the programme, as well as the involvement of government agencies and departments to turn Kampung Pasir Gajah into a new Terengganu tourism destination,” said Ariffin, who recently donated RM10,000 to TCS.
Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok, the co-founder of TCS, said that, besides conducting research, the NGO also has awareness initiatives and uses community mobilization to ensure the project's achievement.
“Since 2011, 5,260 eggs have been incubated, over 3,500 terrapins were hatched and 3,200 released in Sungai Kemaman.
“If in the past only adult terrapins were spotted in the river, now locals can find small and juvenile terrapins, too, proving the success of the conservation programme,” she said.
She said visitors can also go to the Galeri Tuntung started in 2017 with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitanian) apart from the terrapin release programme.
“The gallery was a Kampung Pasir Gajah community hall storeroom before, and till today, it is the only terrapin gallery in Malaysia receiving over 2,000 visitors since it opened,” Dr. Chen said of the terrapin, turtle, tortoise and softshell turtle mini-museum cum one-stop resource center for students.
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