Bank Pembangunan for turtle conservation

While most corporations embark on corporate social responsibility (CSR) to help fellow humans, Bank Pembangunan
Malaysia Berhad (BPMB) is on a mission to help another of God’s creation – the turtle.

Much has been said on the declining number of turtles arriving on the Malaysian shores and efforts are being undertaken by the Turtle and Marine Ecosystem Centre (Tumec) with the support of corporations to reverse the situation.

Thus on July 1, a group of 64 BPMB staff ‘landed’on Pantai Geliga in Terengganu, one of the well known turtle landing spots, to learn more on the reptile that comes ashore at night to lay its eggs.

Upon arrival, head of Tumec Syed Abdullah Syed Abdul Kadir briefed the group on the right conduct when witnessing these turtle laying eggs. The visitors were told to remain silent throughout, wear dark clothes and not to flash lights.

“Turtles have a unique sense. Their hearing is very weak, but their sensitivity towards light and motion is very sharp.

“They are very cautious too. If they sense any possible threat on the beach, they may not land or will return to the sea instead of laying eggs,” explained Syed Abdullah.

Syed Abdullah’s team of seven is responsible of ensuring that turtles which land on this beach are not disturbed as this will encourage them to return  the next season too.

Hands-on experience

Watching turtles lay eggs was not merely a sightseeing event for the bank staff, but an informative hands-on experience that will help them appreciate the turtles’ journey of survival.

On that night the group witnessed a Green Turtle [Penyu Belimbing] laying 114 eggs. The 99 centimetre long and 90 centimetre wide reptile is said to weigh between 80 and 120 kg.

Syed Abdullah told the participants that the turtle was about 30 years old in his estimation.

More interestingly, Syed Abdullah’s team also discovered that this turtle was probably a first timer on the Malaysian soil.

Thus for future reference and record, the turtle was tagged with the code MY9039 and MY9040 on its front

A turtle may lay eggs up to 13 times each year from March to October and usually lays them in different nests each time. The reptile is known for digging a number of holes as decoy to confuse  predators, including humans.

Normally, the Tumec staff dig the eggs and take them to a nearby hatchery to prevent them from being stolen by irresponsible parties, but this time the bank staff were allowed to dig  and take the eggs to the hatchery.

The participants later released 301 turtle hatchlings into the sea, with Syed Abdullah pointing out that out of 1,000 turtle hatchlings, on an average only one  survives until maturity.

Thus, it is important to ensure all turtle eggs are preserved for hatching and continuously released to the sea.

From 1999 to 2010, more than 198 million turtle hatchlings were released into the sea by hatchery centres around the country.

Malaysia is the only country to have achieved such remarkable feat in this area.

BPMB’s partnership with Tumec

Meanwhile, BPMB’s Group Corporate Communications Head, Abdul Hanif Abu Bakar expressed the hope that all of its employees would be eventually involved in the turtle conservation programme through smart partnership with Tumec.

“We hope that by offering hands-on experience like this, the staff will commit themselves to turtle conservation efforts with the assistance and guidance from Tumec,” he said.

On the occasion, Abdul Hanif also donated RM10,000 to Tumec on behalf of BPMB. He  also proudly  announced that all BPMB staff will henceforth be automatically accepted as Executive Members of the Association of 1Malaysia Turtle Lovers (CiTRA 1Malaysia).

As executive members, BPMB staff and their families will enjoy privileges like free access to any of the hatchery centres in the country and will also be accorded priority during their visits.

Abdul Hanif said  with the success of this programme, BPMB is looking forward to partner with Tumec on greater turtle conservation efforts.

He added that BPMB’s CSR effort was in tandem with the government’s call for business organisations to play a role in preserving Malaysia’s national treasures for the future generations.

“In order to make this come true, BPMB is willing to spend time, money and ideas for the good of the nation,” he expressed.

– Bernama