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KUALA TERENGGANU, March 31 -- The success of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) in turtle conservation at Pantai Chagar Hutang, Pulau Redang, which began in 1993, has drawn the interest of the Melaka state government to seek the university's expertise.
UMT's Institute of Oceanography and Environment head of the Field Research Laboratory, Dr Mohd Uzair Rusli said the Melaka state government wanted to study the turtle sanctuary management model so that it could be implemented in Melaka (at the Turtle Conservation and Information Centre in Padang Kemunting, Masjid Tanah, near Alor Gajah) as it has the potential to be a new education and environment tourism attraction.
"What is unique at the UMT research station in Pulau Redang is that it gives an opportunity to the public to get involved (in the station's work) as people can pay a small fee of RM800 per week, which covers transportation, food and accommodation, to be a volunteer at the centre. Students, aged 18 and above, will be given a discounted rate of RM500.
"The revenue generated from this volunteer conservation programme actually helps UMT in managing the cost of the research station for paying turtle ranger wages, food for workers and researchers, boat transportation costs as well as basic maintenance of facilities," he told Bernama today.
The cooperation was reached following a collaboration between the Melaka and Terengganu state governments to launch a new tourism package, "Ikan di Laut, Asam di Darat Melaka dan Terengganu" in a ceremony, here yesterday, to revive the domestic tourism industry in post-COVID-19 pandemic.
Elaborating further, he said the management model at the UMT research station also benefitted the state government as it was able to reduce the cost of turtle conservation because the concessionaire of a turtle landing beach could be independent without having to depend on government grants.
“Furthermore, with the establishment of this research station, we have indirectly provided a tourism product that is often utilised by resort operators and tour boat operators in Pulau Redang as they often send tourists there to visit during the day.
"Tourists' attendance to this station is free and they can interact with the staff and researchers on duty to hear news related to turtle studies," he said, stressing that the experience was very valuable for tourists, and at the same time helped UMT convey environmental awareness messages to the community more widely.
Mohd Uzair said UMT was also excited about the collaboration because Melaka has the Karah (Hawksbill sea turtle or Eretmochelys imbricataturtle) species that rarely spawns in Terengganu.
"Therefore, they should take advantage of this privilege because Melaka has the highest landing spots of this species of turtles which are the target of poachers from neighbouring countries because of the turtles' attractive shells," he added, hoping this cooperation would have a positive impact on the tourism industry in both states.