PETALING JAYA: It isn’t easy to raise any kind of money, let alone RM11,000, for terrapin conservation.
But after joining a fundraising challenge organised by First Steps for Wildlife (FSW) and the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS), three youths say that life has not been the same.
Speaking to FMT, Loh Jey Tse from Terra Warriors said it was his high school science teacher who first inspired his interest in advocating for the environment.
“They always went the extra mile to teach us why it was so important to stay informed,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to do more about this, I just didn’t know where to start.”
He said that when his course seniors — who are founding members of FSW — told him about the fundraising challenge, he seized the opportunity without any hesitation at all.
The winning team’s representative admitted that the pandemic and the toll it took on the economy made the fundraising rather challenging.
“Coming up with fundraising ideas definitely was not easy,” he said. “Running the entire campaign virtually was also rather difficult, given our circumstances.”
However, “toughing it all out with his teammates” definitely made it more than worthwhile for Loh, in addition to the emotional pay-off of making a difference for a good cause.
In the end, the “fun-raising” campaign organisers came up with special activities in which the public can participate, such as artist commissions, concert streams and game nights.
Those who wanted to donate to the cause without participating in any of those activities were also able to do so.
The funds collected will be mainly used to cover the expenses of carrying out conservation works on terrapins which include the purchase of pellets and microchips.
Loh further explained that Malaysia is home to 18 native species of freshwater turtles, but there is not much public awareness regarding how invaluable they are.
“The entire experience was incredibly fulfilling for me, and I hope to be involved in more events like these in the near future!”
Meanwhile, as an animal lover herself, Lam An Ju from Koopa Troopas said she wanted to do her part after seeing how much FWS was doing for the cause.
“Turtles are one of the most critically endangered animals today, and they can’t survive without human intervention,” she said. “So, I wanted to help out in whichever way I can.”
Terrapin Heroes’ Dinie Dayana Mohamad Azri said it was the pandemic that inspired her to join the cause, as the lockdown made her realised a lot of things.
“For example, there were numerous news reports on how nature could heal itself without humans around, and that got me thinking: ‘If humans are the cause, they can easily be the solution too’.”
She said the fundraising challenge came just in the nick of time as this realisation dawned on her.
However, she too said that the fundraiser was quite daunting because her team found that most people couldn’t relate to turtles as much as they would with cats or dogs.
“Initially, I didn’t really mind who we were helping as long as we were making a difference,” she said. “I wanted action because ranting on Twitter simply wasn’t enough anymore.”
Of course, her mind was changed after learning more about turtle conservation from TCS and FSW.
“FSW and TCS are doing an amazing job out there educating the public (myself included),” she said. “And I can never thank them enough for showing me what it meant to advocate for the environment.”
Although she conceded that it was an exhausting process, she said that she would do it all over again if the opportunity arises.
“Doing good gives you a certain satisfaction that I can’t even describe,” she admitted.
“When you believe in the cause and have the right team, what exhausts you will energise you instead.”