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OUR FOUNDERS

After visiting her land that surrounds Turtle Bay on Lang Tengah island in recent years, founder Hayati Mokhtar realised that the pristine east coast landscape of her 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 – Malaysia’s sea turtles.

Having sought help from friends, WWF conservation specialists, and Terengganu state government officials, 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, the project was underway by April 2013.

Whilst in Georgetown–midway through his tour of Southeast 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’s conviction that private land-owners play an important role in global species preservation led him to being invited to join as co-founder, as Hayati felt that she and Raphe both saw eye-to-eye on the matter.

With the meeting of Raphe and Hayati, Lang Tengah Turtle Watch (LTTW) has been able to develop into the successful conservation project we have today. Since the project began, it has grown steadily, with over 68,570 turtle eggs saved from being sold to the market, and hosting in excess of 606 volunteers from 23 different nationalities to date. With new research tasks underway and new initiatives across the project, LTTW will continue to grow and strive towards the protection of our marine ecosystems.

OUR PEOPLE

Seh Ling, Principal Officer

Seh Ling is our Principal Officer, in charge of implementing the best management practices for our hatcheries and nesting mother surveys. Seh Ling brings with her years of turtle experience, being the former project manager of Perhentian Eco Education Project. Her boundless passion for sea turtle conservation has even led her to become one of the founding members of the Perhentian Turtle Project. Seh Ling has recently concluded her PhD in Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. Her research investigated the human-sea turtle interaction complex to understand how sea turtles fit into the lives of local communities in protected marine areas.

Abidah, Site Co-Manager (Tanjong Jara)

Abidah is one half of the managerial tag-team at Tanjong Jara. She has a marine science background and an absolute love for all things turtle. Abidah has previously worked with sea turtles in Sabah and, as someone who speaks fluent Malay, is invaluable when liaising with the community around our nesting beaches. Abidah has been with the project since 2019 as a Conservation Officer but with a change in role, she is now in charge of running all the operations at Tanjong Jara.

Isandra, Site Co-Manager (Tanjong Jara)

Working on fungal diversity of green turtle nest sites back in Univesiti Sains Malaysia, Isandra spent much of her time learning in-depth about sea turtle ecology. After her short stint with LTTW as an intern in 2020, Isandra went on to work with sea turtles in Tioman. This year, she is back with us and will be working alongside Abidah as Site Co-Manager in TJ. Best believe by now she can safely conclude that the turtles actually do not carry four elephants and a disc Earth on its back!

Azrin, Site Co-Manager (Lang Tengah)

Azrin joins LTTW as Lang Tengah Site Co-Manager after completing her degree in Marine Science from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. Azrin is a PADI Advanced Open Water diver, with hundreds of hours of scientific and conservation diving experience. During her internship stint in Pom Pom Island, Sabah, her interest in turtles was sparked when she learned that turtles have distinct facial scales that allow them to be identified individually. In addition, Azrin has a deep-rooted interest in coral reef ecology, restoration, and conservation, and is taking the lead on planning and managing LTTW’s coral restoration efforts on Lang Tengah.

Ginny, Site Co-Manager (Lang Tengah)

Ginny holds a Bachelor of science (Hons) degree in Conservation Biology from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS). Because of her exposure to wildlife documentaries, she has always been passionate about conservation and environmental issues. She joined LTTW in 2021 as an intern at our Tanjong Jara project site and discovered her passion on turtle conservation. Now, Ginny returns to LTTW as a marine biologist to further contribute to sea turtle conservation in Lang Tengah Island. Her primary focus in the team will be data analysis, as it will provide critical information that can inform conservation management.

Shamil, Marine Biologist (Lang Tengah)

Shamil holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Marine Science from Universiti Malaysia Sabah. Mentored by one of the pioneers in sea turtle conservation in Malaysia, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Juanita Joseph, Shamil assisted in multiple research projects focusing on the health and genetic study of nesting and foraging sea turtles in Sabah. As a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, Shamil has participated in and led several underwater cleanups and did manifold conservation and research dives including underwater turtle rodeo, coral reef restoration, and others.

Wid, Site Manager (Chakar Hutan)

Born and raised in Terengganu, Wid vividly recalls the countless family trips to the beach where they would witness the leatherbacks crawling up to nest. Driven by her childhood recollections, Wid decided to pursue marine science and focused on sea turtle photo-identification research during her undergraduate studies. Her interests include not just sea turtle conservation but also capacity-building and working with the community to achieve conservation goals together. Her passion led her to become the Project Manager at the Perhentian Turtle Project, before moving on to Malaysian Nature Society EcoCare as the Education Officer. With the recent expansion of our conservation efforts at Chakar Hutan, Wid has joined the LTTW bandwagon as the Manager of the Chakar Hutan project site.

Mozu, Assistant Site Manager (Chakar Hutan)

Mozu, short for Mohamad Zulkarnain, is the new Assistant Site Manager at our Chakar Hutan project site! It all started from a National Geographic marine documentary that was on-air when Mozu was only 15. The vibrant energy of the underwater world got Mozu completely hooked, and it’s only natural that Marine Science became his first choice for Bachelor’s Degree. Mozu is currently pursuing his Master’s degree while safeguarding the turtles of Chakar Hutan. By joining LTTW, Mozu aspires to reach as many people as possible, encourage them to value sea turtles, and inspire people to take more proactive steps in protecting them. Glad to have you with us, Mozu! 

Audra, Eco Property Manager (Perhentian)

As Eco-Property Manager at The Resthouse, Audra brings with her years of communication experience working in luxury fashion and beauty industries, and a Masters in the Theory and Practice of Translation. Growing up on the east coast of Malaysia and seeing firsthand the deterioration of marine life—specifically turtles—due to tourism and overconsumption of natural resources, has fuelled her recent involvement in conservation. She has also volunteered with the Gibbon Conservation Society in Pahang. When not busy chatting with the langurs and monitor lizards around The Resthouse, she can be found diving, organising beach cleanups with the local community and guests, or writing her book.

Eileen, Operations Coordinator

Eileen left her world in the corporate sector few years ago to explore possibilities with the conservation industry, by joining volunteering and internships programs with various wildlife NGOs. In 2019, she interned with LTTW. Three years after, Eileen found herself back with LTTW, as the Operations Coordinator, after recently left her role of 1.5 years with Tengah Island Conservation. Being in wildlife conservation has been a dream of many years. She hopes, with her experience in management and finance administration, to be able to positively contribute to the industry and positively inspire people around her to make a difference. 

Yen, Admin Assistant

Yen joined us as a volunteer outreach barista back in 2019 at our ‘Coffee for Conservation’ cart on the Perhentian islands, and quickly fell in love with the project. She ended up staying until the end of the season getting involved in turtle conservation work as well as hosting The Resthouse on the Perhentians. In 2020, she took on the Admin Assistant role working remotely from Kuala Lumpur. Coming from 8 years of being in the corporate world, Yen finds fulfillment and satisfaction in supporting the project in her own way.