Responsible tourism: Sea Turtle conservation in Malaysia
We're committed to sustainability in the communities in which we operate and in the ecosystems we encounter. We seek to minimise the impact of our trips by minimising and properly disposing of waste created, by conserving energy and water, and by ensuring that endangered wildlife and environmentally compromised areas are treated with respect. We ask travellers to properly dispose of waste and to be mindful of the environment around them.
We always strive to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Where possible we encourage our travellers to use public transportation, which also adds to the cultural experience. When we do need to use private transport we use modern fleets, which are more energy efficient and emit less CO2.
Cultural engagement and exchange is central to our company ethos, as each trip is a unique mixture of adventure, culture, and philanthropy. We maintain that one only gets to truly know a place by getting to know its people. Volunteer days of the trip are guided by our voluntourism policies developed by ABTA voluntourism guidelines.
We support local efforts of sustainability by staying at eco-lodges and homestays during the trip.
Educating the local boatman and tourists on the island, on turtle conservation to reduce the impacts people have on the turtles is extremely important to us.
10,000 leatherback sea turtles once nestled in one beach in Malaysia, making it the the largest nesting colony of Leatherback turtles in the world. Now, they are considered locally extinct from Malaysia. Olive Ridley Sea turtles have faced the same fate and the Hawksbill Sea Turtles are on their way out. The Save the Turtles project, on the Perhentian Islands of East coast Malaysia has a plan to save the declining populations of the only viable population of turtles left-the Green Sea Turtles.
We need £7,000 to fund a new photo ID project for a local management plan that involves educating the local boatmen and tourists on turtle conservation, a new turtle exhibit and patrols on unprotected nesting beaches around the islands.
The turtles scale patterns on their flippers are unique to each individual, like a fingerprint. It stays with them for life. In 2014, the results of testing Turtle ID were very successful. Even poor quality photos can be used to identify individuals. Unlike other turtle population estimation methods, such as tagging female turtles whilst they nest, Turtle ID can be used to record the Ďactualí population of the turtles in the islands and gives us an insight into population structure and how effective conservation efforts are from year on year.
The research is simple. The plan is to train the local snorkel guides and to display informative posters around the beach, resorts and boats to remind boatmen, tourists and visitors about the programme. Relevant movement maps will be developed by acquiring extra data such as time, date and location. This will ultimately lead to localised management plans for sea turtles in the Perhentian Islands. This process can easily be expanded to include other islands and turtle populations by 2016. Itís about more than saving lives. Itís about learning from the mistakes of the past so that we can protect a future for a species who deserve one.