Lang Tengah Turtle Watch

Youth is the community’s secret weapon, and we have made a tremendous impact to the environment as well as the society. The benefit of being a youth is that we have so much energy and aspiration to make something work. However, only a minority of us understand this. A lot of youth programmes held by the government or private organisations are proven successful and have benefited both the community and the world that we live in. Through these volunteer programmes, young voices are being heard and the outcome would be fruitful to our generation and future ones.

Nature is everywhere around us. In the broadest sense, it refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. When talking about nature, one would picture green forests with wild animals roaming. As a youth myself, I have always been interested in wildlife conservation. As we all know, humans destroy precious habitat which happen to be the natural environment of many wildlife species. We fill swamps and marshes, dam rivers and cut down trees to build homes and other infrastructure. As a result, animals become extinct, endangered or threatened. The most talked-about endangered animal is the sea turtle.

Despite the implementation of conservation policies, the sea turtle population continues to plummet. The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, which used to be a prolific breeding ground for four species of turtle, now sees the number reduced to only two. There are many factors contributing to this decline, but the main one is human exploitation. One activity that prevents an entire generation from ever making it out to sea is none other than egg poaching.

Therefore, on March 7 next year, Lang Tengah Turtle Watch has called on all youth volunteers to engage in their turtle watch activity, including beach patrolling and egg collecting. I think this is an effective way of giving young people the opportunity to serve our local wildlife. Lang Tengah is a small tropical island off the northeastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, nestled between the more well-known islands of Perhentian and Redang. The island is just under two miles long. Its sandy beach on the island’s southern tip has come to be known as Turtle Bay, and within the coastal vegetation behind the beach lies the Turtle Watch camp.

Those looking to volunteer should be relatively fit and acquainted with the rigours of outdoor life. As a dedicated volunteer, your role is to ensure that the migratory population of turtles will be able to continue using the island as a breeding ground for generations to come. A volunteer also acts as a guardian who stops the poaching activity on Lang Tengah. In return, you may be lucky enough to watch a turtle laying eggs or hatchlings scampering down to the water’s edge as they begin facing their first challenges in life.

Joining a youth programme is one thing and saving the life of a sea turtle is another. But they both help build up younger people with positive character. Therefore, more volunteering programmes in Malaysia should include the participation of youths.

By Sofia Adani Azhar, 17, Selangor

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