The Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) was founded in May 2009 by Tan Sri Dr. Salleh Mohd Nor and Dr. Chan Eng Heng who has recently retired from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. The centre will be located in Setiu, the heartland of important nesting habitats for both painted and river terrapins as well as the green turtle.
Plans for the centre are ambitious. It will have multiple functions as a centre for research, conservation, education and conservation-tourism activities related freshwater, terrestrial and marine turtles in Malaysia. It will also serve as a rescue centre for turtles confiscated from illegal trade. It is envisaged that the centre will bring benefits to the local community in Setiu that has been identified as one of the poorest districts in the country.
Physical facilities for the centre will include an open-air hatchery, buildings to house laboratories and offices, ponds and tanks for head-starting of freshwater turtles, ponds and other outdoor enclosures for rescued turtles, breeding ponds for captive breeding work, outdoor exhibits for interpretive purposes and housing for staff, visiting scientists, interns and volunteers.
The founders are now sourcing funds to develop physical facilities for the TCC. Proposals have also been submitted to several funding agencies, both local and abroad to support the turtle conservation projects to be carried out by the TCC.
The Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) will be Malaysia’s anchor organization to create the conditions for turtles to thrive under the care and protection of informed local communities, an educated and motivated public, dedicated NGOs and a concerned government.
The TCC will be dedicated to the restoration of the symbolism of Terengganu with turtles through hands-on freshwater and marine turtle conservation and research programs, and public outreach through educational campaigns, volunteer and fund-raising activities.
The TCC will also strive to bring about the recovery of depleted wild populations of freshwater, terrestrial and marine turtles in Malaysia through partnerships with like-minded organizations and individuals as well as through its own innovative programs.
To bring about a recovery of freshwater and marine turtle nesting activity and populations in Malaysia, particularly in Terengganu by intensifying conservation efforts.
To function as a national, regional and global centre for research, conservation, education and conservation-tourism activities related to freshwater and marine turtles in Malaysia, particularly in Northern Terengganu.
To create partnerships between stakeholders (Department of Fisheries, WWF-Malaysia and universities), local villagers, funding agencies (e.g.Turtle Survival Alliance), and foreign scientists who share the common goal of freshwater and marine turtle population conservation and restoration.
To initiate conservation-tourism programs, particularly through the development of volunteer programs to assist in the research and conservation work carried out by the TCC.
To involve local communities in all aspects of activities related to freshwater and marine turtles in Terengganu and other parts of Malaysia.
To advocate for better protection laws for freshwater and marine turtles in the country.
To administer and operate long-term in-situ and ex-situ conservation projects on freshwater and marine turtle which involve local communities. These projects will have the following functions:
Act as models or show cases for freshwater and marine turtle conservation practices which are based on internationally recognized and accepted techniques.
Provide “hands-on” experience and training for students and the general public in freshwater and marine turtle conservation (through volunteer programs).
Serve as “living” laboratories for freshwater and marine turtle research.
To conduct research in all aspects of the biology and ecology of marine, freshwater and terrestrial turtles and threats to their survival in order to develop and implement innovative methods in the conservation of turtles.
To serve as a rescue centre for freshwater and terrestrial turtles confiscated from illegal trade, slaughter houses and restaurants.
To serve as a centre for education in freshwater and marine turtle conservation and help build capacity in freshwater and marine turtle conservation and research at the national, regional and global level.
To disseminate research results through publications and local and international seminars and conferences.
To provide professional services in the field of freshwater and marine turtle conservation, management and research to local, regional and international agencies charged with the responsibility of managing turtles.
To function as a freshwater and marine turtle resource center at the national, regional and global level.
To generate funds and establish a Turtle Trust Fund for the implementation of projects to achieve the objectives of the TCC.
Benefits to the Local Community in the Penarik / Setiu Area
Local villagers can be engaged in the conservation projects to carry out the ground-level work such as collection and incubation of freshwater and marine turtle eggs, and head-starting work.
When volunteer programs are developed, the local community can benefit by providing home-stays to the volunteers, as well as other services such as transport, and volunteer participation in their everyday activities.
Initiation of river turtle conservation projects in the various river systems of Malaysia will create awareness among the local communities on the importance of their environments, in particular freshwater turtles and how these animals can bring economic benefits to them through eco- and edu-tourism activities.