Lang Tengah –‘The Eagle in the Middle’– is a small tropical island off the North-East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia
The key to safeguarding our nesting population of turtles – predominantly Green Turtles – on Lang Tengah relies on constant and continued presence on the island, as this is the main deterrent to egg poachers. Living 24 hours a day in the camp, we regularly patrol the nesting beaches on the island by night, relocating any nests that are laid on other beaches back to the safety of Turtle Beach. Our patrols are hardly run-of-the-mill, unless you consider fireflies, phosphorescence, copious amounts of shooting stars, distant lightning and ancient creatures hauling themselves out of the sea as ordinary things to encounter.
At our core is our turtle project but in 2018 we are expanding our operations from the shore, right down into the ocean. Having already compiled a list of the island’s terrestrial fauna, we are now embarking upon marine research projects to see how we can better understand how to improve the health of this ecosystem. This will encompass looking at fish, coral and invertebrate abundance and diversity.
As far as biological research on Lang Tengah is concerned, the records of the marine park and WWF up until LTTW started work were described as ‘data deficient’. Our initiatives on the island are helping fill-in the blanks for both terrestrial and marine species found along this east-coast archipelago – and our preliminary studies have already turned up some interesting results.
About Sea Turtles & Conservation
Sea turtles are now threatened the world over, and, despite the implementation of conservation policies, populations continue to plummet. The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia is no exception. 20 years ago, this region was a prolific breeding-ground for four species of turtle, now only two remain.
There are many factors contributing to this decimation, but they all have a common denominator – human exploitation. Most detrimental human activities have a secondary impact on the turtles, such as entanglement by fishing gear or being deterred from nesting by the bright lights of hotels and resorts. One activity, however, prevents entire generations from ever making it out to sea – egg poaching.
This practice is commonplace along this coastline and its impact has been sorely felt, with the last Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), the largest of all turtles, sighted in 2011. The Olive-Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) population has also been eliminated from the region – the last documented nest being in 1999. Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) numbers have decreased by 80% since 1950 and the Hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate) is on the brink of local & global extinction.
Lang Tengah Turtle Watch has been founded in the confidence that the most crucial step towards the ultimate preservation of these majestic creatures is to help ensure that the new generations actually make it out to sea.
To ensure that our migratory population of turtles are able to continue using the island as a breeding ground for generations to come, we need guardians to stop the poaching activity on Lang Tengah. Our operation can only function if we have a dedicated team of individuals willing to partake in our conservation practices, including our new marine research projects. This is the main reason for joining our project, and watching a turtle laying eggs or hatchlings scampering down to the water’s edge are your rewards – sights rarely seen by most, and a real privilege to witness.
After 2020, the year of no volunteers, LTTW will have to carry out a review and also look at how travel restrictions are going to play out. We will update all interested parties, before Christmas, about the opportunities and plans for volunteering in 2021.
International volunteers – £480.00 GBP
Local (Malaysian) volunteers – MYR 1,000.00
International volunteers – £720.00 GBP
Local (Malaysian) volunteers – MYR 1,950.00
For longer stays:
International volunteers – add £360.00 GBP for each additional 2 weeks
Local (Malaysian) volunteers – add MYR 950.00 for each additional 2 weeks
This is mostly to cover your food, accommodation, project training and leisure activities.
- Willing to patrol beaches at nighttime
- Willing to participate in all turtle and survey work as requested
- Willing to help out with chores around camp
- Able to swim
- Up for the adventure of living in the jungle
- Open-minded and outgoing, looking to make new friends on the project
After breakfast, we conduct nest inspections to make sure that the eggs are developing well and haven’t succumb to predator attacks. Depending on which research phase you join for, you will also be split into groups to undertake the affiliated surveys. Lunch is then followed by free time (or surveys, if they were missed in the morning), where we normally go jungle trekking to secluded snorkelling spots around the island, but volunteers are equally free to laze on Turtle Bay and enjoy the serenity. The main aspect of the volunteer’s responsibilities is to assist in nightly patrols along the beaches in search of nesting mothers. This is divided into shifts between the hours of 9pm – 6am.
Stripped-back and open-air, the camp lies slightly recessed behind the secluded beach on Turtle Bay.
Think rustic, jungle living – bucket-showers, camp fires and the lullabies of crickets, frogs and waves.
You run the camp, making sure there’s enough water to drink and food to eat, still leaving yourselves time in which to relax and explore the island. Powered by the sun and the forest, our environmental impact is kept to a minimum. So when preparing for your trip, think biodegradable – for everything you are going to use.
Meals are simple but tasty – and, with the constant arrival of new faces, the menu is forever changing.