The Organisation

After Founder, Hayati Mokhtar, sought help from friends, WWF conservation specialists and Terengganu state government officials, the Lang Tengah Turtle Watch was born. With enthusiastic interest from local Malaysian volunteers and students from the Universities of Cambridge, Birmingham and University College London, by April 2013 the project was underway. Since the project began it has grown steadily; to date releasing over 20,000 turtle hatchlings and hosting in excess of 400 volunteers from 23 different nationalities.

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Hayati Mokhtar

After visiting her land that surrounds Turtle Bay on Pulau Lang Tengah in recent years, Hayati Mokhtar soon realised that the pristine East Coast landscape of childhood memory was no longer a reality. Rubbish littered the sand and corals lay bleached in the shallows. This sobering moment led her to form an action-plan, aimed at preserving what she knew was gravely threatened – the turtles.

Raphe van Zevenbergen

Whilst in Georgetown – midway through his tour of South-East Asia – Raphe van Zevenbergen chanced upon a friend of Hayati’s in an antiques shop. She asked if he had just come from her friend’s turtle watch project as part of the Cambridge crew. He hadn’t, but was most interested to hear more. He called Hayati and was soon on board. Trained in wildlife conservation, Raphe is convinced that private land-owners can play an important role in global species preservation. He was invited to join as co-founder – as Hayati felt that she and Raphe saw eye-to-eye.

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The Island

Lang Tengah –‘The Eagle in the Middle’– is a small tropical island off the North-East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, nestled between the more well-known islands of Perhentian and Redang. We know very little about the history of the place – only that it was used as a refuge for years by passing fisherman during the brunt of the monsoons, thus possibly explaining the presence of our water well, which existed long before we established the project.


The island is just under two miles in length, the western side is fringed by white sand and shallow waters, while the eastern coast is a dramatic stretch, featuring rugged granite rocks. Our sandy beach has come to be known as Turtle Bay, but used to go by the intriguing name of Pasir Tok Enjut or ‘Sands of the Bobbing Old Man’. It lies on the very southern tip of the island, and within the coastal vegetation behind the beach lies the Turtle Watch camp.


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