Environmental Tourism in Borneo is Turtley Awesome

Borneo is an explosion of wildlife, and those who plan to visit can hope to see a variety of animals, many of which are seriously endangered. Above ground, you can look for orangutans, sun bears, pygmy elephants(!), and proboscis monkeys. But in the world underwater, there is more magic to be discovered. Borneo is home to the endangered green turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

While most people strive to ensure their tourist dollars don’t support the destruction of animals, if you explore Borneo with Stray, you can be sure that you are helping to achieve great things for our planet.

Our Strademark stop at the northern tip of Borneo, Simpang Mengayau Bay is not only a beautiful destination, it is the home of the Kudat Turtle Conservation Society. We Stray here to learn about and contribute to, the awesome work being done by a group of passionate locals, to save their turtles. These guys understand the importance of environmental tourism, that supports local communities, provides resources for animal protection and educates everyone about conservation. 

How KTCS support turtles

Turtles face a number of threats, most of which are caused or exacerbated by humans. Destruction of habitat, plastic pollution, destructive fishing practices, poaching and boating injuries are some of the threats to turtles in Bornean waters.

The Kudat Turtle Conservation Society (KTCS) was formed in 2011 to help these gentle creatures of the sea. Led by Roland, the grass roots movement has the ambitious goal of creating 50 community managed turtle conservation areas in Tun Mustapha Park, the largest marine park in Malaysia. The group has taken a multi-pronged approach to helping conserve and protect turtle populations.

Turtle Hatcheries

Turtles lay their eggs on the beach, but due to threat from humans, some beaches are no longer safe for them to do this. KTCS takes eggs that are at risk, and transfers them to hatcheries where they can develop, unthreatened. Once hatched, the team release the baby turtles into the sea, a truly magic experience that you may be able to witness on your Stray journey. In addition to this, KTCS enlists the help of tourists and the local community to patrol the beaches where turtle eggs have been laid, to protect them from poachers.

 

Education and Awareness

One of the most important ways to improve long term outcomes for turtle populations is to educate the people and encourage stewardship of the environment. Members and volunteers give environmental education talks to schools and villages in the area, as well as visiting tourists. They organise beach clean-up events, providing simple and effective ways for everyone to get involved with protecting the turtles.

Bringing Environmental Tourism to Borneo

Environmental destruction is most often a side effect of communities that are trying to produce a livelihood. Even turtle poachers are just trying to make money to feed their families. That’s why providing an alternative economic model is crucial to changing the future, for both the people and the wildlife. KTCS provide the opportunity for voluntourism and environmental tourism to become the livelihood of these small communities. After all, we’re pretty sure that most people would rather come to Borneo to help save the turtles than to eat the turtles!

How Stray supports KTCS

Stray’s Borneo Explorer 9 Day Tour takes adventurers to the idyllic Simpang Mengayau Bay to meet the team at KTCS. You’ll visit the turtle hatchery and see how turtle conservation works. In an engaging presentation by Roland, you’ll learn about the conservation efforts, the history, and the challenges faced by both turtles, and people in Sabah.

In December 2018, Kudat experienced a massive storm which wreaked havoc on the villages in the area, including KTCS. A crucial bridge, connecting the mainland to the turtle hatchery on the beach, was destroyed. This meant that Roland and his team could only cross the inlet during low tide, by wading through water, severely inhibiting their ability to do their valuable work. Stray was happy to be able to support KTCS  in repairing of the bridge – making sure to use materials this time that will stand the test of time.

Environmental tourism is a fantastic way to have a positive impact on places that you visit, while still having all the excitement and adventure of traditional travel! If you want to see more, do more, and help more, come and explore Borneo with us.

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