Thursday, 7 March 2013

Turtle Power at Berjaya Times Square

The Turtle Conservation Society (TCS) of Malaysia is a non-governmental conservation organisation established in Oct 2011 with the objective of conducting research on turtles, restoring the turtle population in Malaysia, cultivating concern for and awareness of turtles and terrapins and the challenges faced in protecting them, and providing consultancy and professional services in the fields of turtle conservation, management and research.

When TCS co-founder Pelf requested for volunteers to help out at the Berjaya Founder's Day event booth on Saturday, 22nd February, Aravind and I stepped up and offered our services as volunteers for this worthy cause.

I am going to reserve comment on the sincerity of and rationale behind corporate philanthropy here. The important thing is that TCS and many other worthy non-profit organisations, conservation groups, welfare homes and faith groups are in dire need of funds, and Berjaya Corporation had very kindly and generously made donations to these organisations in order that they may continue the good work that they do. SPCA Selangor and MNS were among the other recipients of much-needed funds.

I was quite astounded by the scale of, and amount of funds poured into, the said event. Not only were sizable donations made to the 74 charitable organisations, the entire 10th floor of Berjaya Times Square was dedicated to the said beneficiary organisations for one day so we could carry out our outreach, education and fundraising work.

We shared the 10th floor with other booths offering games and refreshments. Booklets of coupons were issued to Berjaya Corporation staff and beneficiaries to use at the food, games and merchandise booths.

Aravind and I received an entire booklet to share between ourselves, and I discovered, to my delight, tickets to the indoor theme park within the shopping mall. When we offered to volunteer, we expected nothing in return except the companionship of like-minded people. To be given this -- this tremendously generous booklet of food and merchandise vouchers and entrance passes to the theme park -- was just mind-blowing and something I am not used to.

Outreach and fundraising work during Berjaya Founder's Day. Aravind and I familiarising ourselves with turtle conservation literature and the membership forms when we arrived early in the morning.

The merchandise, membership and turtle adoption table.

Pewter turtle necklaces for sale, going for a song.

18 Species of Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises in Malaysia. The ones Aravind and I adopted are River Terrapins.

What's the difference between sea turtles, terrapins and tortoises?

Sea turtles live in seawater. They cannot retract their heads and flippers into their shells. They are heavy and cannot lift their bodies off the ground when crawling.

Terrapins live in freshwater. They can be hard-shelled or soft-shelled. They usually have webbed feet. They can retract their heads and legs into their shells. They can lift their bodies off the ground when crawling.

Tortoises live on land in dry conditions. They have tough, thick shells and scales. They can lift their bodies off the ground when crawling.

One of the most uplifting and empowering children's books I have ever read -- Little Turtle Messenger, authored by Professor Chan Eng Heng and illustrated by Tan Yisin.

The Sea Turtle Nesting Process:
1. Landing on the beach.
2. Crawling up to the beach.
3. Body pitting.
4. Egg chambering.
5. Egg laying.
6. Covering the egg chamber with sand.
7. Sand bathing / camouflaging.
8. Returning to the sea.
9. Entering the sea.

Volunteers from three shifts congregate in the booth. The 10 a.m. volunteers are joined by the eager 12 noon volunteers who arrived early! TCS has such efficient volunteers! We made some new friends at the event, who we will no doubt meet again at future conservation events and trips.

Our booth was next to MNS' booth, and for some inexplicable reason, we were all wearing the same black Tapir logo shirt. Here we are, taking the obligatory photo with Rico the Tapir. I think I should wear the badges of MNS, TCS and SPCA all on the same shirt next time if I am going to duty-hop from one booth to the other.

Promoting the society and its educational and outreach materials.

TCS Co-Founder/Secretary Pelf and her Mum return after the cheque presentation ceremony. Now we can do so much more for the cause of river terrapin conservation!

After the arrival of the noon volunteers, Aravind and I were able to go on our lunch break. I was, of course, insistent about going to the theme park first, and Aravind was happy to oblige.

A view of the indoor theme park, with its scary and not-so-scary rides.

Nothing says "love" like repeatedly colliding with the Dodgem car your boyfriend is driving. I love Dodgem cars and I ride them at every opportunity I can get. 

I was initially excited about going on this ride. It's called the Dizzy Izzy. 30 seconds into it and I was convinced I was going to be flung out of my seat when the octopus "arms" tilted at an angle while spinning at high speed. 
"Okay, I have had enough of rides", I told Aravind, who was enjoying himself and asking me to "Feel the G-Force". Me, I'd be happy to just feel the ground beneath my feet again.

Lunch was obtained in exchange for coupons at the booths and stalls at the ground floor. We returned to the TCS booth after lunch to help out in the afternoon.

A very busy time at the booth, with the merchandise and books getting snapped up almost as soon as they are replenished from our stocks. I am glad that the visitors are getting to learn a little about turtle conservation even as they shop.

TCS volunteer Emily explaining turtle natural history to a mother and her two children. They were very interested, and may be joining the upcoming Turtle Discovery Trip.

Ways you can protect and help turtles and terrapins:
1. Learn all you can and share your knowledge.
2. Adopt a nest, turtle or terrapin.
3. When you are on a nesting beach, follow turtle-watching guidelines.
4. Reduce the use of plastic bags and packaging.
5. Pick up litter from the beach.
6. Support turtle conservation projects.
7. Do not purchase or consume turtle or terrapin eggs or meat.
8. Do not buy souvenirs made of turtle carapace or body parts.
9. Do not harass turtles and terrapins whether on land or in water.
10. Avoid restaurants that serve turtle meat or eggs.

For further information, please refer to the links below:

Mailing address:
Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia
56-2/1, Pangsapuri Cerong Lanjut,
Jalan Cerong Lanjut,
20300 Kuala Terengganu,


Xiwen said...

Hi your article about the Turtle Conservation Center here is interesting! Can I contact you thru email to talk more regarding environmental volunteering?

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Hi Xiwen,
You mean Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia? Would you like to contact them to discuss activities and volunteering opportunities that you can share on your blog? You can email me for more info at as well. I normally don't share my blogposts, as I consider this a private or social blog. Writeups for sharing are usually posted in the MNS Green Living blog, without all the personal observations and ridiculous anecdotes and photos of friends and family, haha. If you want me to, I can come up with a sanitised version for you.

Xiwen said...

Hi Ee Lynn,
The email I tried to send to you was rejected by the yahoo server. Can you check your facebook message? Just found that you are Ee Lynn! Hahaha. I have sent you a PM some while ago on Facebook.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Got your message but haven't had the time to respond to it because I was afraid I would have to come up with fresh material for the blog within a certain timeframe. Most of the posts that are ready for sharing are on the MNS Green Living blog. My personal blog is more for friends.

Xiwen said...

Just checked out the MNS Green Living blog, it's awesome! Why don't you create a profile for MNS Green Living in MESYM? Then you can share the blog posts there! MESYM is a platform for interaction between like-minded people in this environmental field. It would be great to have you join in the community!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Green Living is a Facebook page so it can't post in other pages. Maybe I should join the MESYM FB page and share Green Living's blogposts there? Is that what you would recommend, too?

Xiwen said...

It is more recommended to create a profile for MNS Green Living on MESYM. Then you can share the post you have posted on the MNS Green Living blog on this website. MESYM is like a collection of informations from other sources. You can link your MNS blog in MESYM. We have two other MNS groups on MESYM too: MNS Perak Branch Bird Group and MNS Selangor Branch Bird Group. (