When I first arrived at the place, I was so shocked at how small that centre is despite it being an official NGO that caters to freshwater turtles. It is truly sad to see the condition of the centre, especially the fact that their centre is only a tiny part of the community multipurpose hall which is already small to begin with. After knowing the cultural issues that exist (i.e the poaching of eggs for fun) that contributes to the endangerment of the freshwater turtles, I was very impressed on the stories regarding the survival of this centre and their operations, knowing that their manpower is very limited. The initiative that they brought along to help the local community there truly caught my attention as it just brings in a whole different meaning to their mission of saving turtles (spill-over benefits: helping the local community). After finishing the activities that they provided, I really felt like that it wasn’t enough and that the whole team is capable of doing something bigger that can have an impact on both TCS as well as the environment.
Cherating is known for its beautiful beaches, however when we put our focus in searching for litters, the beach is full of it. I really feel the need to have garbages placed along the beach area, this way would at least reduce random littering. I was very excited initially when I first saw those turtles in the pool of Cherating Turtle Sanctuary. However, when I learnt that they’ve been kept there for a long time already and that they have limited space to move around, I really sympathize for those turtles there as putting them in an enclosure really goes against their nature of roaming around freely. We went there thinking that the hatchery was completely destroyed by the soil erosion that happened and we came mentally prepared to rebuild it throughout the day. However, we were surprised that the hatchery was in good form and we were more than happy to lend a hand in painting the buildings there.
I think I didn’t know what to expect when we first started our journey to EcoCare. In my head, the swamp area could either be really good like in the documentaries I’ve watched or really bad with dangerous creatures and unpleasant scenery/smell. Suprisingly, the place was very clean and properly taken care of with proper infrastructure and equipments. I think this was one of the best days of the trip because I personally learnt a lot on the natural mechanisms involved surrounding the mangrove plants. With a bunch of interns to guide us throughout, I feel that abundance of information were passed down to us like a flowing water out of a tap.
I have been to Redang island before, so throughout the journey I was just thinking to myself on where possibly can the turtles lay eggs since its full of commercial properties and tourists. Little do I know, we landed on the opposite of Redang island which has the clearest water I have ever seen. The whole Chagar Hutang feels very exclusive and researchable. The moment we stepped onto the beach, we can already tell that it is very well kept with proper resource and funding allowing us to better trust the sanctuary as a legit research center. Learning about the nest and the excavation was definitely the highlight of our day. The intern that was with us showed us literally every step of excavation and we are continuously well informed of the knowledge and science behind it, I felt very fulfilled at the end of our stay.