New development on Mentawak beach has started, with a few resorts almost open. Five new locations are in the works, including one on each side of JTP and a house on the rocks between Mentawak and Juara beaches. Unfortunately not all these resorts and chalets might develop in a turtle-friendly manner, which could spell doom for the Green turtles that nest here. Mentawak could lose the distinction of being the last beach at a Kampung that still receives nesting turtles.
We have assembled a ‘situation report’ about development on Mentawak. Click here to read it. We also have started an online petition calling for turtle-friendly development on Mentawak, which we’ll be delivering to various Malaysian government agencies. You can sign the petition here. Please leave a personalized comment to make your signature more powerful. For more info on the development continue reading below. * All maps on this page can be enlarged by clicking on them.
A variety of things can accompany development: cut and cleared vegetation, more noise and light pollution, and increased nighttime activity on the beach. All of which aren’t good news for sea turtles. We’re working hard right now at JTP to get Mentawak protected and ensure the development is turtle-friendly, meaning vegetation is kept intact or not completely cleared, and noise and light reaching the beach at night is kept to a minimum.
The nesting Green and Hawksbill turtles still visiting Juara, and Tioman in general, are small fractions compared to decades ago. Leatherback and Olive Ridleys turtles are already extinct from Tioman, as is the case in much of Malaysia. In the past, 20-30 beaches around Tioman supported nesting females and now only 4 do. Three of these beaches JTP monitors daily (Mentawak, Penut and Munjur) with the fourth being a turtle-sanctioned beach on the other side of the island (TAT Turtle Sanctuary at Benut). We don’t want Mentawak to become another “X” on the map.
One option for Mentawak is to declare a Temporary Occupation of Land (TOL) on the government’s beach, which would quickly secure the beach’s nesting area. A more permanent solution is for the beach to get sanctioned as a protected nesting area, as is the case on Pulau Redang, Terengganu and the Turtle Islands, Sabah. If sanctioned the land value and tourism attraction would likely increase over time in Juara instead of becoming overdeveloped like so many other beaches already have. The turtles, surrounding ecosystem, Tioman tourism, resorts, business, and local culture could all benefit from making this important investment to protect Juara’s nesting beaches.
The time to act is now to ensure that the nesting females of Mentawak continue to have a home and that the thousands of hatchlings released from this beach over the past 11 years have a beach to nest at in the future.