TRCC–Turtle’s Club is a youth wing of Turtle Rescue and Conservation Center (TRCC) formed in 2016. It is a group of enthusiastic volunteers motivated by the idea of conservation and united for a common goal, primarily turtles. Initially, it was formed including only the B.Sc. (Environmental) students of Mechi Multiple Campus, Bhadrapur, Jhapa by Lead Keeper, and Representative of TRCC Mr. Tapil Prakash Rai.
The volunteering works then were mostly focused on setting up the infrastructure of conservation center, creating habitat for turtles, collecting turtle foods, setting up stands for posters on the herpetofauna of Nepal, sanitation, and many more. Since then, there has been active participation of members on different occasions.
In 2019, I was officially appointed as the new coordinator of TRCC-Turtle’s Club. Together with the team members, we were actively involved in conducting rescue and awareness programs in the Jhapa district. The information began to flow and people became more conscious about the Center that rescues the turtles. In some instances, people even bought turtles from possible consumers just to hand it over to the rescue center. By then, we had also an open participatory model for members to join in our works. And as such, many students, enthusiasts, and individuals from science & non-science backgrounds of all levels have contributed their time and energy in some way for Turtles conservation.
What is the motive of TRCC-Turtle’s Club?
TRCC-Turtle’s Club aspires to be a reliable platform for sharing knowledge and promoting conservation of turtles (and herpetofauna as a whole) in Nepal. It is also a means of gathering people with a common interest on turtles to come up with ideas, research & ways to uplift the status of turtles in Nepal. Furthermore, we want to generate interests in the common public as well to drive their attention towards the need for conserving turtles.
How does TRCC-Turtle’s Club conduct rescue?
TRCC-Turtle’s Club is an integral part of Turtle Rescue and Conservation Center (TRCC) which was established in 2012 A.D. as a joint venture program of ARCO-Nepal & SUMMEF. TRCC is officially registered under (then) Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of Nepal. As such, it is authorized to conduct a rescue of turtles with potential threats in concert with the Division Forest Office.
What are the activities being done by TRCC-Turtle’s Club during a lockdown?
The crisis of COVID-19 came in a most unexpected way leaving all hands-on activities to a complete halt. The first few days went passive until we got caught up with the new trend of online activities being held all around the globe. With World Turtle Day knocking on our door, we issued a notice for everyone interested to contribute their art, poems, photos, and experiences on turtles as a means to celebrate the day virtually. We received 24 unique creations from participants representing 12 districts; all of which were published on a daily basis on our Facebook page, shared and praised with a lot of enthusiasm. The whole month of May was celebrated in respect of turtles by sharing various information on different species of turtles occurring in Nepal. Few members of TRCC-Turtle’s Club, Saroj Chauhan, Bigyan Kharel, Roshan Pahari and I utilized this lockdown period to make a homemade incubator to hatch the eggs of turtles in our conservation center; the efficiency of which is yet to have experimented. This was the time when we were engaged virtually more than ever and found a lot of people interested to join our Club to contribute to turtle conservation. As such, we opened an online membership form for a week and now expanded our team. We are hopeful to deliver the message of turtle conservation to a wider area through our dynamic and dedicated team members in the coming days.
As the situation eased, we volunteered in the conservation center to fix some of the damages done by the heavy wind during the lockdown period. On the occasion of World Environment Day, we published 16 video messages to address the current issues and highlight the needs of nature and the environment in our well being. Recently, we also organized our first virtual interaction program in Zoom platform hosted by TRCC-Turtle’s Club where two of our main speakers talked about the respective topics:
- “Turtle Conservation in Nepal: From Past to Present” by Tapil Prakash Rai, Lead Keeper & Representative, ARCO-Nepal
- “Herping in Southern Africa and Madagascar” by Javier Lobón Rovira, Biologist and Photographer, Spain
What are the other works of TRCC-Turtle’s Club?
The major works of TRCC-Turtle’s Club always revolve around turtles. Being the only community-based conservation center working solely focusing on turtles, students from different schools, colleges, universities, NGOs/INGOs, Government officials, researches, and enthusiasts visit the center. Till date, we have imparted knowledge on turtles to more than a dozen educational institutions. The Center mimics the wild condition, and it is as close as anyone can get to this number of species in a single place. We actively facilitate university students for an internship and researchers doing thesis in Eastern Nepal. Besides, we also conduct a rescue of turtles under various circumstances.
Similarly, we also address the ongoing issues that need concern on a community level and come up with different programs such as the Snake Bite awareness program. We also set different interaction program with experts from National and Foreign countries whenever possible. Apart from that, members of the Club are always creatively engaged in preparing educational posters, media interviews, writing feature articles in newspapers, and so on. We also intend to expand our participatory initiatives by developing a citizen science program to aid in the conservation and documentation of this scantly studied taxa of Turtles.
How can one join TRCC-Turtle’s Club?
We have set up a Facebook group TRCC-Turtle’s Club for anyone who wants to be updated about our activities. We try our best to share different information so one can be occupied with knowledge of turtles in every possible way. We also have a membership form (currently closed) which opens timely. However, one can always reach to our mail id to inquire/discuss any information regarding turtles.
The idea of conservation is such that it binds people from all the places. The mere existence of conservation center is because there are threats out there and as an individual, we can do many things in our own place to help out any species. There are many misconceptions out there regarding turtles, those that need to be defended with a logical and scientific background. Our organization believes true conservation is only possible with the participation of every citizen, especially local stakeholders. So, our motive is to aware and engage more people in turtle conservation of Nepal.
Coordinator, TRCC-Turtle’s Club