Project Orion IX - Rovering with Turtles
Project Orion IX – Rovering with Turtles is the ninth project in the series of annual collaborations with our host organisation, World Wide Fund for Nature – Malaysia and Pengusaha Wanita Setiu (PEWANIS), or the Setiu Women Entrepreneurs from Kampung Mangkok.
This year Project Orion IX is made up of nine Scouts of which, was joined by a Malaysian Scout who met up with the team over at Kampung Mangkok. The project took place between 10 June to 24 June 2018 in Setiu, Terengganu, Malaysia.
It Involves activities such as:
1. Night beach patrolling
2. Turtle nest excavation
3. Construction work
4. Mangrove seedling preparation
Project Orion has its focus set on the conservation of marine turtles. Aside from wildlife conservation, Project Orion hopes to encourage community development and the protection of our environment.
Beaches are patrolled nightly by park rangers to deter poachers who are after the turtle’s eggs, which can be sold on the local market at relatively high prices if the poachers manage to get the eggs. Rangers, with the team’s support, will remove the turtle’s eggs from the beach and transfer them to a safe location – the hatchery, where the eggs will rest till hatchlings emerge from the nest. The hatchery is also built to protect the turtle eggs from predators such as the ghost crabs. This promotes the number of hatchlings, and with great hope that the marine turtle population will improve. A week after the hatchlings emerge, the team will perform a nest excavation where the team is scheduled to empty the nest to account for the shells. Typically, each nest will range between 70 to 120 eggs and the number of eggs moved into the hatchery’s nest from the beach must be accounted for during the nest excavation process. In most cases, there will be a discrepancy between the number of eggs and the number of hatchlings that emerged from the same nest, therefore, the team will need to uncover the truth. The differences may be due to infertility of the eggs, predators or bacteria. As for the hatchlings, they will be released into the sea so as to not disrupt their life cycle. Female turtles will return to the same beach years later to lay their eggs, and the conservation cycle repeats.
The team was also involved in constructing a toilet where it will serve other groups who will be coming to Kampung Mangkok for their community involvement projects. With our inexperience in construction work, two of the villagers were with us throughout the toilet construction. Their craftsmanship was truly amazing as witnessed from their delicate work performed while constructing the roof. The team supported this phrase by moving materials such as wooden ridge beams and asbestos roof, while others measured and sawed the beams into shorter lengths. Proceeding to the next phrase, the team, equipped with shovels, changkols and cement buckets, started rolling in wheelbarrows of sand, cement powder and gravels for the toilet’s floor and walls. Mixing it with water to get cement requires a good estimate in proportioning the mixture, a proper technique and teamwork. For a single occupant toilet, at least seven bags of cement powder were poured into the construction of it. The walls were build by laying bricks in rows on top of one another with cement applied between the bricks. After completing the walls, we discovered that the plastering jobs wasn’t simple either. Even through our inexperience, slowly but surely, we completed the structure. Other construction work has also taken place during our stay at the village, such as an expansion of a provision shop and the construction of a shelter for a local start up.
It has been four years since my last visit to Kampung Mangkok. Being back with Project Orion and with an awesome team, we hope that our contributions, no matter how small, will leave this place better than we found it.
Retaining its serenity, the view from the front porch of our accommodation – Pink House, remains magnificent. Facing the South China Sea, with cool morning breeze, fresh air, and greetings from loitering Kampung animals, such mornings are rare. Most importantly, the team that enhanced my experience. It wouldn’t be as fulfilling without them.
Thank You Team IX!