01 August 2009

Sijie, the scouts and sea turtles at Setia

Tan Sijie has been missed from our shore trips lately because he has been busy working on the larger issues. Today, his work has been featured in the news!
(Clockwise from bottom) Rover scouts Muhammad Isa, Ashok Kumar, Oliver Lim, Melissa Heng, Ong May Lwin, Tan Sijie and Nicholas Koh Yong Zhi saved turtle eggs, repaired homes and planted mangrove trees in Terengganu. Team member Parry Lim is not in the picture. -- ST PHOTO: ALBERT SIM

Team adviser Tan Sijie, 26, led a team of eight rover scouts - that is, the senior section for those aged 17 to 26 - to assist WWF conservationists in their turtle and community projects in the Malaysian east coast state.

Setiu, one of Terengganu state's poorest districts in terms of revenue generation, was the destination of their first Orion Turtle Project that they hope to turn into an annual event.

WWF's Mr River Foo, the Setiu community project liaison officer, said: 'The amount this group did was immense. The standard of these kids is a benchmark for other volunteers that come out.

'We do not really take on volunteer groups as we are too busy with our day-to-day jobs, but we did not have to babysit them. They were so independent and got around on their bikes cycling to areas up to 8km away. They were really passionate about everything they did.'

The group, consisting mostly of students, organised its activities, including patrolling the beaches at night to spot turtles laying eggs. The eggs were then dug up and reburied in the WWF hatchery to protect them from predators and people who believe the leathery-shell eggs are aphrodisiacs.

After talking with a women's group in Setiu that the WWF helps to educate, the scouts identified two building projects in the town: constructing a toilet for a man on kidney dialysis and replacing the crumbling wall of a home in the village. The divorcee who lived in the home was so grateful she cried when they left at the end of their two-week trip.

The group also planted 1,000 mangrove trees from the WWF nursery in four areas along the banks of the Setiu River over two days.

Full report on the wildsingapore news blog.
All about their Setia adventures on their Project Orion blog.

Despite his busy schedule, Sijie took the time to help out at our recent Anemone Hunt with Dr Daphne.

Sijie together with Chee Kong lead the Star Trackers effort to monitor the large red Knobbly sea stars (Protoreaster nodosus) found on our shores, with a particular focus on Cyrene Reefs.

His personal blog NatureScouter also features our shores.

Sijie is now in Africa doing yet more marvellous conservation work.

Bravo Sijie!

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