The Padang Kemunting Sea-Turtle Sanctuary is just one of the many exciting and eco-friendly destinations in Malacca, Malaysia. The sanctuary is located in Pantai Padang Kemunting beach, in the island of Pulau Upeh, about 28 kilometers from the central town of Melaka. On the island and near the sanctuary are several cheap resorts, known as “kampong” that are made available for tourists. The main attraction, of course, are the Hawksbill turtles. The best time for tourists to come to the island are in the months from March to June when Hawksbill turtles lay their eggs. This species of turtle is a medium-sized marine turtle. They are named “Hawksbill” for their hawk-like beak.
These precious marine creatures almost made it to the endangered animals list because locals used to enjoy eating their eggs. It was a favorite delicacy for decades until a law was enacted against this practice in 1989. To take care of these precious marine creatures, the Department of Fisheries Malacca has put up the Padang Kemunting Turtle Management Center in 1990. The center has a hatchery and information center, both established to educate turtle enthusiasts and authorized turtle egg collectors on how to properly hatch the eggs. The eggs take 45 to 65 days to hatch.
Hatching season is from March to September. In these months, the center allows lucky tourists to release the young into the sea. Normally, the center partners with the World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-M) for volunteers to assist in the hatching and releasing. During off-season, the main tasks of the center are to monitor the appearance of the turtles on the island and nearby waters, protect the eggs from thieves and poachers, and to help the turtles hatch their eggs in safety, ensuring the prolonging of the species. Despite the efforts of the Center and the Sanctuary, it is observed that the number of turtles are still decreasing. This is why more protective efforts are being put up by the Malaysian Government.
Although Melaka is known more for its historicity than as a wildlife reserve, it has its share of wildlife preservation. Not only is it exerting efforts to project the Hawksbill turtle, it also houses one of the most important zoos in Asia, if not the world. The Melaka Zoo protects a number of endangered species including the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros. Located in Ayer Keroh Town, Melaka Zoo is the second largest zoological park in Malaysia. The biggest one is the National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city.
Safe in the care of Melaka Zoo are the following animals: the Asian elephant, Mongolian wild horse, white rhinoceros, red panda, squirrel monkey, Molurus python, Green Tea python, grey wolf, Malaysian gaur, blue and yellow macaw, Indochinese tiger, and Malayan tiger.
Going back to Padang Kemunting Sea-Turtle Sanctuary, admission here is free. Visit the island by booking a ferry ride from Shahbandar at Jalan Kota or speedboat to the nearby Pulau Besar island. The sanctuary is open every day from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, except on Mondays and public holidays.