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 150,000 turtle eggs saved from being sold to the market, and hosting in excess of 665 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.
Rahayu, Executive Director
Rahayu has had a diversified career in various sectors ranging from private legal practice, TV broadcasting, oil and gas, wildlife conservation and certified sustainable palm oil. Due to her passion for conservation, she accepted the offer from the Founders to lead the organisation and agreed to return to the beach, as it were. Rahayu is responsible for the overall direction of the organisation, identifying funding requirements and sources, budgetary planning, ensuring timely project implementation, and aligning human capital with the organisation’s goals. With a background in conservation and various leadership positions she had previously held, she hopes to lead the organisation into becoming an employer of choice for marine conservationists and researchers in the country.
Azrin, 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, 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.
Gauri, Assistant Project Manager (Lang Tengah)
Gauri is a fresh graduate student of B.Sc. Marine Biology (Hons.) from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. While studying at UMT, she deepened her love for marine life and its environment. She learns that she is extremely passionate about marine conservation after completing her internship with the Kapas Conservation Society as a conservation intern. As a conservation intern, she gets experience in coral reef surveys, identifying marine species, sea turtle conservation, and many others. She always seeks opportunities where her skills and knowledge in the Marine Biology field can be used to the fullest. She was the Research Assistant with LTTW at the Chakar Hutan project site before becoming the Assistant Project Manager at the Lang Tengah project site.
Isandra, 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. She joined us as the Co-Manager in 2019 and is now the Project Manager. Best believe by now she can safely conclude that the turtles actually do not carry four elephants and a disc Earth on its back!
Audrey, Assistant Manager (Tanjong Jara)
Audrey’s passion for the ocean led her to pursue Marine Science at Universiti Malaysia Sabah. She has an absolute love for all things turtle, so best believe that you will find her waist-deep in the hatcheries most of the time. Audrey kicked off her conservation journey with LTTW as an intern in 2022. This season, Audrey returns as the other half of the managerial team and is responsible for overseeing the groundwork at Tanjong Jara.
Wid, 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.
Afiq, Assistant Manager (Chakar Hutan)
Afiq is a passionate fresh graduate student of Marine Science at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT). He always seek opportunity to work with nature. Then, he joined LTTW Chakar Hutan team as an intern in 2022 and got the chances to explore the turtle conservation works. In 2023, he returns as assistant project manager at Chakar Hutan project site since he already fell in love with the beauty of Terengganu’s nature and culture. With his cultural sensitivity, he able to work together with the locals and educate them about turtle conservation.
Pok Hasim, Hatchery Worker (Chakar Hutan)
Pok Hasim is a local from Kerteh with experience in sea turtles night patrol and hatchery management since 2011. He used to work with egg collectors in Kijal and Kerteh. He looks after our hatchery at Chakar Hutan during the day, helping with hatchery-related work like making our nest fence.