My Photographs: Top 5 Juara Turtle Project – Tioman Island, Malaysia.

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Juara Turtle Project, May 2015. My newly acquainted travel mates and I had literally just arrived in the village of Juara on the eastern side of Tioman Island when we saw the sign for the turtle sanctuary. We’d trekked through seven kilometers of jungle to get here, so figured another twenty minute walk to see some rare turtles had to be worth it!

Juara Turtle Project, May 2015. Located on this gorgeous and peaceful beach near The Coconut Grove Hotel; we were given a warm welcome by an American girl from North Carolina who worked at the sanctuary as a volunteer. “You guys here for the free tour?” she asked. We hadn’t been aware of any free tour, but confirmed that hell yes, we were here for the free tour.

Juara Turtle Project, May 2015. The tour was really informative and not at all preachy. We learned how the abundant sea life around Tioman has long made it an area targeted by fishermen scouring the seas with their large nets. Over the years this has killed off a huge chunk of the island’s sea turtle population. Another issue is poachers who sweep the beaches to steal eggs. In addition to awareness education and outreach, the project actively collects turtle nests and protects them in hatcheries like this one.

Juara Turtle Project, May 2015. When baby turtles are born, the sanctuary immediately releases them back into the wild. So visitors may be disappointed by the amount of turtle action they actually get to see. But at least there’s this lovely lady Jo, the project’s sole resident, who is sadly blind and unable to survive in the wild. She lives in a large tank in the centre’s garden

Juara Turtle Project, May 2015. The volunteers also do a fine job of keeping the beach and surrounding area as clean as humanly possible. Donations can be made in the small but charming visitor centre where you can also pick up some tastefully designed Turtle Project merchandise and meet the incredibly cute house kitten. For more info on Juara Turtle Project go to http://www.juaraturtleproject.com

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