Mrs. Suzan Lakhan - Saving the Ancient Leatherback Turtles

By Florida News Group, USA (Originally in English) 2009.09.26

Matura Beach in Trinidad is one of the nesting places of leatherback turtles that have been traveling the world’s oceans for the last 100 million years. However, in the 1980s, nearly one third of the turtles that nested on that beach were killed by poachers for their meat and egg, or due to fishing, coastal development and pollution. In order to save these beautiful creatures from extinction, Suzan Lakhan Baptiste, a local woman and her team of dedicated volunteers formed Nature Seekers in 1990 and started cruising the beach every night during the turtle nesting season. She often walked alone until sunrise to make sure that every female leatherback was safe. She even quit her daily job to suit her patrolling schedule. In 1993, Mrs. Baptiste received a prestigious award from the United Nations Environment Programme. With her courage, compassion and great leadership, she and her group have won the battle of saving this graceful marine species, and completely stopped poachers’ activities. Today, leatherback turtles enjoy a survival rate of virtually 100 percent on Matura Beach.

In recognition of her enormous efforts in saving these animals and elevating human consciousness, Supreme Master Ching Hai honored Mrs. Suzan Lakhan Baptiste with the Shining World Compassion Award, which was presented to her by our Association members last September in Matura, Trinidad. At the Award ceremony hosted by Mr. Dennis Sammy, Manager of Nature Seekers, Mrs. Baptiste was given a framed Award letter and a beautiful crystal plaque from Master as well as Her internationally best selling books. In addition, she received a check of US$10,000, which was Master’s contribution to Nature Seekers. As a token of appreciation, Mr. Sammy presented Master with a Turtle Adoption Certificate, certifying that a turtle called Matura was adopted by Her.

Following the Award presentation, a vegan lunch was served to all the guests. Our humble thanks Mrs. Suzan Lakhan Baptiste for your compassionate endeavors, safeguarding the lives of these precious beings through your exceptional love, nobility and heartfelt care.