As promised, this is the post where I am going to explain a bit more about how Lang Tengah Turtle Watch’s nest adoption program works and how you can get involved.
To understand why the adoption program is so crucial to the survival of green sea turtles in this region we first need to talk about the challenges associated with turtle conservation in Malaysia.
What threats are turtle eggs facing?
Unfortunately the list of threats is a long, ever increasing one. Natural threats in this region include fungal infections, crab and insect infestations, monitor lizards, feral cats and water inundation. Increasing global temperatures are already impacting sex ratios of turtles, as they have temperature dependant sex determination. Hotter temperatures mean more females and fewer males, which makes reproduction more difficult.
Unsurprisingly, humans are by far the biggest threats. Alarmingly, consumption of turtle eggs is still legal in this part of Malaysia. This means that the vast majority of turtle nests are sold to the market as a food source.
Why do we relocate nests?
The main reason that LTTW needs to relocate nests to our hatcheries is to protect them from being sold to the market. Beaches here are owned by a tender system –this means whoever has the tender can do what they like with the eggs. When turtles come up the beach to nest they leave a really obvious track in the sand, which can be easily followed up the beach to locate the eggs. We have a good working relationship with several local tenders who sell us nests to put into our hatcheries.
What does the nest adoption program do?
Selling turtle eggs is a very lucrative business. A mature turtle might lay up to 8 nests in a season, each containing 50 – 100 eggs. Eggs can be sold to the market for around 3-5 RM each which adds up very quickly if you have hundreds of turtles nesting on your beach. Until laws change to prevent consumption of turtles eggs in this region, we have no realistic choice but to purchase the eggs.
It costs 600 RM (around $200) to adopt a nest with LTTW, and that money is used directly to purchase eggs from tenders. The program is very interactive and personalised – you can choose a unique name for your nest that will be on display to the public, and you’ll receive photos, videos and updates about how your eggs are doing throughout the incubation process. This is such a fantastic way to directly support conservation efforts.
How can you support us?
Nest adoptions are by far the most generous and helpful thing you can do for the LTTW’s conservation program. You can adopt as an individual, family or even group online by emailing our project coordinator (email@example.com). Please mention that you were sent by me, or let me know. If you happen to visit Tanjong Jara in the future, make sure you stop by the LTTW’s visitor’s hut and purchase some merchandise. It’s not currently available online, but if anyone is super interested please let me know and we might be able to arrange for me to bring something back to Australia.
I have also decided to set up a gofundme campaign so that if you would like to make a smaller donation you can have the choice of putting it towards a communal “Emma & Friends” nest (or two!) that I can write about on here.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments section, and thank you to everyone who has been following along with my Malaysian adventure!
You can read more about LTTW and their nest adoption program here: http://www.langtengahturtlewatch.org/