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Responsible tourism: Sea Turtle conservation on Perhentian Islands, Malaysia
This whole experience is about giving back to the environment of the Perhentian Islands. You will play your part in a new and novel sea turtle research study which will not only enable us to assess how many turtles actually live in the Perhentian Islands and where their favourite spots are but also this will be used by decision makers to design locally focused management plans that will help direct conservation efforts in the islands. If the study goes well in 2015 we hope to open this project to other turtle nesting areas in Malaysia and produce a nationwide database of turtles which then can be used to assess local populations but also their movements between different areas.
You will also play your part in protecting nesting beaches and releasing hatchlings as well.
On Saturdays you will host an awareness booth which is your chance to share your new knowledge and love for the marine life and turtles and inspire the tourists to find out more about them too.
We will also join snorkel tours with the local boatmen to help them educate and involve the tourists in the research.
The project needs the local community to be successful. Therefore a lot of effort will go towards training not only the locals to conduct the research but also train them how to involve the tourists. We will have posters and stickers everywhere about the project so tourists should be aware about the research programme. When the tourists ask the local boatmen about the research, they will talk to the tourist about sea turtle conservation. The islands belong to the villagers not the tourists, government or us. Therefore benefiting them and involving them is of utmost important.
Our programme also financially benefits the locals by our participants buying food from the local shops and stalls and by using local boatmen. Our project in the Perhentian generated over Rm140,000 (GBP30,000) for the village economy in 2014. The majority of the revenue created was for food and boat fees. We have also started a ladies association named Perhentian Islands Ladies Association but that project is more under our community project in the village and not the turtle project.