Tourism & Conservation in Malaysia

Seeing a turtle, a tiger or any other animal in its wild natural habitat is a breathtaking experience not only for a nature lover, but anyone easily enthralled by pure beauty. Unfortunately opportunities to do so worldwide are getting smaller and smaller as both turtles and tigers are under the threat of extinction in many locations, including Malaysia.

Fortunately for us and the wildlife there is a lot that can be done to preserve both of these beautiful animals on Malaysian land. A variety of organisations aware of the preservation issues have put a lot of effort to support the environment and made it possible for others, including tourists, to get in involved. Anyone, regardless of their skills, can get involved in a number of conservation projects across the country.

Joining a programme like these enables you to not only learn about the wildlife of Malaysia but you also get a chance to help preserve them, this is Ecotourism at its best. - Daniel Quilter, Ecoteer founder

Hiking

Photo taken from http://ecoteerresponsibletravel.com

One of few organisations who realised the need for action is Ecoteer Responsible Travel having established a variety of conservation projects in partnership with credible NGOs such as MYCAT and local stakeholders in order to help preserve the best of Malaysian wildlife. Now tourists can be part of several conservation projects in Malaysia while on holiday.

Tiger conservation at Merapoh, on the borders of Taman Negara, is one of such important programmes run by Ecoteer. The aim of the project is to maintain the wildlife corridor between Taman Negara and main mountain range used by tigers to pass through. The corridor is there to allow migration of wildlife while avoiding isolation and preserving the continuity of number of species, including (apart from tigers) elephants, rhinos, sun bears and leopards. Protecting and improving the corridor is the daily duty of many volunteers who decided to participate to make a difference. Find out more about the Tiger Trail.

The Merapoh programme is something special, in a 2 day expedition the Ecoteer Team managed to find tracks of Sun Bear, Elephant and 2 leopards, plus we deactivated 2 snares and whilst collecting camera traps we captured photos of Sun Bear, Tapir, Golden Cat and a Tiger.  The animals are out there and so too are the poachers, join this programme and do the best thing you can do for Tiger conservation and remove a snare!

Alongside rainforest, Malaysian marine wildlife is another focal point of conservation projects based on the coast. Country’s famous green sea turtles are being monitored in Perthentian Islands by volunteers who have a unique chance to experience underwater wildlife protection whilst learning about the process and educating others, including tourists in the location.

The Perhentian islands are paradise, however many issues still exist like waste disposal and poaching of turtles eggs.  By Joining this programme you are helping to protect one out of 4 key nesting sites in the Perhentians.

Volunteering on conservation projects does not only benefit the wildlife, but also people involved. Programmes like the one in Taman Negara, are a great opportunity to discover the richness and learn about the complexity of rainforest ecosystem as well as difficulties involved in protection of such a vast natural area. Jungle trekking or diving with turtles are firsthand experiences not to be missed by nature lovers and all those concerned about environmental protection. After all it is the wildlife and people who make these places special. Travel & make a difference – support tiger and turtle conservation in Malaysia.

Time for tourism to 'step up to the mark'

While Malaysia clearly has an abundance to offer tourists seeking back-to-nature adventures or retreats,  it’s time tourism stepped up to the mark, to satisfy eco-conscious travellers and play a bigger part in reducing its impact on the environment and communities.

Amy McLoughlin and Reza Azmi write for Business Circle about responsible tourism in Malaysia.

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Scuba Junkie: Protection of Natural Areas & Wildlife Conservation

2012 Wild Asia Responsible Tourism Awards Winner: Best in Protection of Natural Areas and Wildlife Conservation

Scuba Junkie has made the clear connection between business and nature and is doing lots to protect the environment of which their diving resort depends on. Their resort is based on Mabul, a beautiful island off Sabah in Malaysian Borneo, just a short boat ride away from any diver’s ‘big one’, Sipadan.

Scuba Junkie is often described as the ‘lifeline’ for its home island and is at the forefront of many local schemes to clean up Mabul, protect endangered marine species and educate others. Aside from the whole heap of great initiatives Scuba Junkie are engaged with, they’re an exemplar business when it comes to working with the local community too.

Why Wild Asia loved this Winner

Our favourite concept!

Waste Management – In 2011, Scuba Junkie donated $70,000 towards rubbish removal from Mabul. The resort coordinates an island rubbish collection service: free biodegradable bags are provided for local community, once full, these can be dropped off at the resort and a boat collects four times per week and takes to a recycling plant on the mainland managed by a Governmental Body. This is preventing locals to dump waste into the sea, as previously done. They have also sponsored and introduced the only street bins in Mabul (150) and provided the local council with skips (10). They also coordinate weekly beach and reef cleans.

  • Shark Conservation – Spearheading the Semporna Shark Sanctuary as Advisor to the Proposal, they have contributed 70,000RM this year towards the campaign. The goal is to gazette a protected area in Semporna seas for endangered sharks and lobby against shark finning. Within Semporna, they employ a member of staff to monitor the sales of shark products at the local wet market. They have also recently funded an expert to deliver a study on the Economic Value of Sharks in Sabah
  • Education – Scuba Junkie supports the island’s School of Hope, a centre providing educational opportunities for sea gypsy children who cannot attend state school. They are engaging them with English classes and environmental education. These children are also actively engaged in events such as Mabul Marine Week which bring the community together. Furthermore, the resort’s Shark and Environmental Officer delivers weekly presentations to guests on turtle and shark conservation in the local area
  • Environment – Buildings have been designed to prevent light and noise pollution and the resort has a Green Grade A sewage treatment plant which is soon to be upgraded to include irrigation into the ground
  • Sustainable Seafood – No seafood is served onsite as local methods are not sustainable. A bold statement for an island tourism business where fish is often demanded, but very responsible and admirable
  • Turtle Conservation – The resort runs and manages the islands only turtle hatchery which is managed by trained biologists and supervised by Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Parks. To reduce unethical turtle egg collecting, they have introduced an excellent incentive by paying locals 10RM per egg (10x market value). These eggs are collected and added to the Turtle Hatchery project to be safeguarded. In the past year, they have contributed 25,000RM to the hatchery project

What did the Judges have to say?

“Most impressive is that they limit themselves voluntarily in areas where they could make profit, such as limiting the number of boat trips, don’t sell seafood, restrict buildings etc”

“An impressive list of green credentials”