Stay S.A.F.E.: Protecting Turtles in Malaysia


Photo shot by Nur Adreanna


At a young age, this boy has started his own mission to save the environment and endangered animals, specifically leatherback sea turtles. 14-year-old Ahmad Iszuddin has been selling his own baked cookies for the past three years to raise funds for turtle sanctuaries and beach cleaning programs. His moving journey has gifted his incredible experiences and achievements.


Iszuddin's journey first began after he watched a video from his Science class. The footage showed people littering, turtles eating plastic bags and bottles and getting killed. This gave him a heavy heart which he expressed, "I felt sad because the people knew the turtles were going extinct. Turtles play a huge role in the environment but the people didn't care."


Photo by Iszuddin Izham on Facebook


After watching the video, Iszuddin educated himself on the importance of sea turtles for the environment. He shares that they play a part in saving the environment, "First of all, turtles eat seagrass in the ocean. Let's say there are no more sea turtles, the seagrass just grows and grows, eventually they'll hit the surface and make the sea

look greenish and dirty." He also adds that sea turtles eat jellyfish, which keeps humans safe when swimming in the ocean.


So, this made him decide to raise funds and contribute to the cause. His thoughtful efforts derive from his wish to see many animals still exist in the future. When asked why he sells cookies of all things, he answered, "Before this, I was selling cookies to my friends to buy a game, and they've always liked my cookies. So, I started selling them again but for turtles."


Photo by Save Sea Animals From Extinction on Facebook


To help his mission, Iszuddin has also built his own non-profit organization, Save Sea Animals From Extinction (S.A.F.E.) with his family and friends. To him, one of S.A.F.E.'s objectives is to inspire other people to care for the environment too. He notes that if a bunch of teenagers can participate in saving endangered animals, then adults and other youths should do the same too.


Photo by Az Ishak on Facebook


With the help of social media, he uses his Instagram page to share and promote his cookies. He even attends bazaars to sell his merchandise. At bazaars, he gives out his free recipe books which include his contact details and social media handles. This way, people following him can know more about his mission and order his cookies, brownies, metal straws, t-shirts and more.


Each time there are enough funds to donate, he and his mother would email turtle conservation centres and inquire how much help they need. "Let's say they need supplies for beach cleaning activities or to buy more nets to take care of turtle eggs, I'll then send them the donations," said Iszuddin.


Photo shot by Izham Khairuddin


Throughout his journey, Iszuddin has visited sanctuaries to give talks, clean beaches, and look at turtles. In Terengganu, he has visited Chagar Hutang Turtle Sanctuary, Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia, and Redang Island. Furthermore, he has been to Walai Penyu Conservation Park in Sandakan, Ara Dinawan Island in Sabah, and Turtle Hut in Port Dickson.


Photo by Az Ishak on Facebook


According to Iszuddin, his two most significant achievements would be launching S.A.F.E. and winning the Young Changemakers Awards 2019, which is an award for children who aim to change the world. From this award, Iszuddin won RM2000 which he donated part of it to Ara Dinawan Island in Sabah. Moreover, in 2019, he was given recognition and praise by the Sultan of Perak for his efforts to help turtle conservation centres.



Photo by Grow The Goose on Instagram


This young boy has also been interviewed by two radio stations which were Hitz FM and Era FM. In both interviews, he remembers being nervous and shy when he spoke about his project and selling his cookies as he was only 11 years old at the time. Furthermore, he has been interviewed for television shows like Borak Kopitiam, Malaysia Hari Ini, Nasi Lemak Kopi O, and

Club Mickey Mouse.


One of Iszuddin's ambitions is to be a musician as he is learning to play the piano. However, if he were to become an environmentalist in the future, it would be to save other endangered animals like tigers and sharks. "I do wanna explore other hobbies and careers, but it won't change my love for animals and the environment. Even if I do become a musician, I'd still want to continue the cause," he says.


To him, it is unfair to future generations if they were brought into an unhealthy and dirty world. He says, "If we have a healthier environment, it'll be healthier for us. Let's say we have a bad one, we'll constantly get more diseases and it'll just be hard. Every animal plays a part to keep the environment safe. If we take care of our animals, we'll take care of the environment. If we take care of the environment, we'll take care of our animals. We have to work together."


"We should stop cutting down forests because if we cut down the habitats of animals, they would have to migrate. Once they migrate, hunters would catch or kill them. Plus, we have enough buildings," he said. He also advised people to stop using plastic straws and bags because plastic could harm more than hundreds of animals.



Photo by Az Ishak on Facebook


Iszuddin's story and efforts have proven that youths can make a significant impact on the world. He hopes for many others to be a part of this journey by playing their role to make the environment a cleaner and safer place for both humans and animals. For those who want to support his mission, you can purchase his cookies and merchandise by contacting him on Instagram @iszuddin_.


By Nur Adreanna













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