Sunday, May 6, 2018

Volunteering at Juara Turtle Project

Heyyy everyone! If you know me well enough, then you'd probably already know that i enjoy being around animals more than with MOST humans, no offense but its true. Ever since few years back, i felt the need to do something different, to make a change in the conservation world. So, after months and months of searching through many wildlife volunteer opportunities I finally got the guts to do it.

Most volunteer programs offered in South Africa, Madagascar, Sri Lanka are rather expensive yet the experience would be priceless guaranteed! Most of them are non-profitable organizations which often require loads of funds which partially come from the volunteer’s pocket. It would really be a dream come true if i could participate in one of those efforts one day.   

From the title itself you'd already figured out which species we're trying to save. Yes, this is a Malaysia based organization located in the heart of Kg. Juara, Tioman. If you do plan to volunteer here, which i hope YOU DO, everyone on the island knows about Juara Turtle Project (JTP). From Tekek ferry station, you'd need to take one of their local taxis aka jeeps to reach JTP which roughly takes about 30 mins.

Accommodations are like any other dorms you'd find in an environment like this. Each room had about 2 bunk beds and 2 bathrooms, expect to have few extra friends in the room occasionally, if you know what i mean. There's also plenty of hammock around JTP to take naps in, its really relaxing without a doubt. Most volunteers that come here are usually Europeans so you'd definitely be making new friends from all over the world.  

One thing that got me going each day was the view we had. Unlike at home where i wouldn't want to get out of bed, i was excited to wake up every morning just to see the sunrise, i mean how often do you get clear skies, front passes to a beautiful ocean and a sky full of stars at night.

Everyday there's a board meeting where everyone gathers around to decide who does what on the next day. Daily chores include keeping the main area clean, ready for visitors, beach patrols and boat patrols. The rest of the day you'd have time for yourself & it's free and easy. For new volunteers that arrive at JTP, an orientation talk would be given as you would soon give similar talks to visitors, explaining about JTP's efforts in conservation.

Here's one of the most interesting parts throughout the program. Boat patrols where you get to go to different islands nearby JTP itself to search for turtle tracks. As it is turtle nesting season right now, female turtles come out to lay their eggs.

Fun fact about turtle eggs, the sex of the baby turtles aren't determined yet as it is affected by the surrounding temperatures. So, if its nested in a shady cool temperature, then it'll be mostly male turtles produced and if it's warm, it would be mostly female turtles. Kg. Juara is a turtle conservation area, so people here don't eat turtle meat or its eggs. Mostly. But there are people who indulge in them and each turtle egg would cost around RM5.

Also note that JTP does not keep live turtles, they would like the process of turtle conservation to be as natural as possible. Once, we've found a turtle nest, we would collect the eggs carefully, return back to JTP and nest them again in the nesting area, safe from turtle egg sellers. After about 6-8 weeks of nesting, it's time to check the hatch!

These baby turtles below unfortunately did not survive through the process.

If you would like to sponsor a nest, you could find out more here! It cost RM600 per nest but you could share one nest with 3 people, so that would only be RM200 per person. Once the nest you've sponsored has hatch, you'd get pictures of your contribution to help save these baby turtles.

On Wednesdays, JTP organizes beach clean ups at Juara's beach and other beaches around the island. These were just one of the thousands of rubbish collected from just one beach near Juara. It's crazy to see the amount of trash we have contributed and after monsoon seasons it gets worse! Flip flops, styrofoam, plastic wrappers, fishing nets and a whole lot of oil spillage.

JTP has many fury felines to keep you company besides the mosquitoes, spiders and other insects. All the cats have been neutered as there was an over-flood of cat population on the island. They usually just laze around and are quite the cuddlers.

This was such an amazing trip to be finally able to contribute to the wildlife in Malaysia. 5 days in JTP passed by quickly and i'd recommend staying there for atleast 1 week. Definitely more to come in the future & only time will tell where it shall take me.

Thats all for now