My Personal, Nature

Help Saving Our Terrapins with Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS)

Photo credit: Get Outdoors Nevada

Did you know that reptiles in the order Testudines, such as terrapins, turtles, and tortoises, are all different from one another in terms of their appearance, habitats, behaviours, and diets? Many of us do now know about the differences among these animals. Hence, let me share with you some of the key variations:

Physical Features
Terrapins typically have a flattened shell, webbed feet, and are small in size. On the other hand, turtles have a more rounded shell and feet with claws or flippers that are designed for swimming in rivers and oceans. Tortoises have feet made for walking on land and a high-domed shell.

Estuaries, swamps, and marshes are among the brackish water habitats where terrapins are most frequently found. Turtles can be found in both freshwater and saltwater environments, including lakes, rivers, and oceans. On land, tortoises can be found in arid environments like savannas, deserts, and other dry areas.

Terrapins are omnivores and consume a variety of foods, including plants, insects, and crustaceans. Although some species of turtles are solely herbivorous or carnivorous, all turtles are omnivores. Herbivorous tortoises eat cacti, grasses, and leaves.

Terrapins can live in groups and are typically more social than turtles. Turtles may only gather together during mating season because they tend to be more solitary. Tortoises are solitary creatures who prefer to spend most of their time in the sun.

Terrapins are small aquatic turtles that inhabit habitats with brackish water. Both freshwater and saltwater habitats are home to turtles, which are bigger than terrapins. The largest of the three, tortoises inhabit dry habitats on land.

Turtle Conservation Effort in Malaysia
For your information, Malaysia is home to several species of sea turtles, tortoises and terrapins, including the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, and olive ridley turtle. Threats to these turtles include habitat loss, pollution, poaching, and unintentional entanglement in fishing nets are some major issues we are facing. Numerous NGO organizations and governmental organizations in Malaysia are engaged in turtle conservation initiatives to address these threats and safeguard turtle populations. Here are a few instances:

Department of Fisheries Malaysia
The Department of Fisheries Malaysia is responsible for managing and conserving the country’s marine resources, including sea turtles. In order to protect sea turtles, the department has put in place a number of strategies, such as the creation of marine protected areas, the enforcement of fishing laws, and the tracking of turtle populations.

The research group SEATRU (Sea Turtle Research Unit) is based at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu and focuses on sea turtle conservation in Malaysia. SEATRU works with government organisations to implement conservation measures, conducts research on turtle populations and behaviour, and engages in community outreach and education.

Wildlife and their habitats are protected in Malaysia by the WWF-Malaysia organisation. The group runs a number of initiatives aimed at protecting sea turtles, such as monitoring turtle populations, assisting nesting grounds, and collaborating with regional groups to lessen threats to turtles.

Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia
The Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia is a non-governmental organization that is dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles in Malaysia. The group works with nearby communities to promote turtle conservation, runs a turtle hatchery, and studies turtle populations.

I am glad that I have had a great experience volunteering for TCS back in 2018 in one of their programs in Kuala Lumpur. From then onwards, I have been a supporter of this society, by making frequent donations and terrapin adoptions to help them in their effort to preserve the population of freshwater turtles.

About Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS)
The Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS) was established out of necessity in 2011 when co-founders Drs. Chan Eng Heng and Chen Pelf Nyok realised that despite the country’s home to 18 native species of tortoises and freshwater turtles, there was no organisation or agency in charge of them.

TCS is the first non-profit, non-governmental organization in Malaysia devoted to the preservation of freshwater turtles. Through collaborations with other like-minded organizations, people, and local communities as well as through its own programs, the Society seeks to restore Malaysia’s declining wild turtle populations, with a focus on freshwater turtles.

About Executive Director, Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok

Dr. Pelf is the co-founder and Executive Director of TCS. She receives the country of Malaysia’s first doctorate in the study of non-marine turtles. The distribution, biology, and ecology of freshwater turtles are some of her areas of interest in research. She oversees a neighborhood-based terrapin conservation project in Kg. Pasir Gajah, Kemaman, and was just given the Commonwealth Points of Light by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of her work on behalf of turtle conservation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) counts her as a member.

I knew Dr. Pelf from the event I joined previously and been keeping contact with her since. She is such a humble and friendly person. And her dedication and passion towards helping the terrapins and preserving their population are exceptionally high and exemplary. Dr. Pelf, I wish you all the very best in your continuous effort. You have my support!

About Scientific Officer, Aminah bt. Madi

Aminah graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Zoology) degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 2022. Before receiving her first job offer as a Scientific Officer, she first joined TCS as an intern. She is eager to find out more information about turtle conservation. She works with university lecturers and students to plan, carry out, and support research projects. She is also committed to educating and inspiring the next generation about the value of freshwater turtles and the ways in which we can protect them.

Adopt A Terrapin NOW!
Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS) carries out a River Terrapin Conservation Project in the Kemaman River, Terengganu. A large number of river terrapin eggs are secured for incubation through the completion of this project and cooperation with the neighbourhood communities. The hatchlings of river terrapins are raised for four to five months after their emergence before being allowed to return to the river.

The river terrapins are available for adoption each year as part of our fundraising efforts. Each terrapin adoption costs RM35 (or US$10), and you will receive a unique Certificate of Adoption in addition to an official tax-deductible receipt. Choosing a name for your adopted terrapin is also encouraged! River terrapin conservation projects will be carried out in the future using all of the funds raised through the Terrapin Adoption Program.

I have participated in this program twice and here are the Certificate of Adoption that I have received from my previous adoptions:

I named my adopted terrapins Max and Alex. I just adopted another one today and I named it Petra. By the way, this Terrapin Adoption Program is a symbolic gesture in an effort to raise funds for turtle conservation in Malaysia. Adopters do NOT get to bring home a terrapin. And at the end of the day, ALL terrapins will be released into the river, regardless of whether they get adopted or not.

Some Other Ways to Support Turtle Conservation Society (TCS)
Join As A Member
As a TCS member, you will be a part of an exciting partnership that contributes to the protection and conservation of turtles in Malaysia. You may also participate in all the outreach activities that the Society carries out at a discounted rate; and automatically receive newsletters as well as updates from the field. Members are also entitled to a special discount on selected exclusive turtle-themed merchandise. Join now!

I signed up as a Life Member since May 2020. Wow! It’s been 3 years.

Your donations would benefit the river terrapins, school kids and the local villagers. It could be used to help defray the cost of some bills (water, electricity at the hatchery), or it could also be used to sponsor a Turtle Awareness Program. Workshops with the villagers’ women could be organised with the help of donations. These activities enable the women to develop their skills and earn a living while also increasing their capacity.

Buy Merchandise from Online Store and Shopee Store
What better way to raise awareness about turtle conservation than to include it in something that they can share with large numbers of people worldwide? Because their products are made by the local women of Kg. Pasir Gajah, you directly support them when you shop at TCS (especially when you purchase their batik products).

Find out more ways to help Turtle Conservation Society (TCS) via their social media:
Official Website:

*Photo credit: Some photos are taken from TCS website and should be credited to the rightful owner(s).

14 thoughts on “Help Saving Our Terrapins with Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS)”

  1. A program of this nature is truly commendable in its efforts to protect and conserve turtles. It’s disheartening to witness these magnificent creatures face such perilous threats.


  2. Thanks for reminding us that we need to conserve these amazing animals. I hope more people and companies come to aid this noble cause.


    1. Actually not only turtles. Many animals are endangered now. Human must stop their uncontrolled deforestation and poaching activities to prevent animal extinction. In the end of the day, we all live in the same world. Any one (animals, plants, human) gone, we are all gone.


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