All posts by Macaranga

Stop the Playbacks If You Love Helmeted Hornbills

Hornbill researcher and conservationist Ravinder Kaur saw unethical bird photographers at work in Pahang. She shares her experience and concerns.

A MONTH ago, I had just returned from a field trip in Pahang to watch a pair of Helmeted hornbills (Rhinoplax vigil), one of the most endangered hornbill species in Southeast Asia.

The calls of the bird lingered in my ears as I unloaded my car upon return. But the birds themselves did not plant it there.

Rather, over four days in the field, I had been exposed to photographers’ incessant playbacks of the Helmeted hornbill calls from their speakers.

They were using such recorded playbacks to lure the Helmeted hornbills for a photo.

(Photo: Helmeted hornbill, a critically endangered species threatened by poaching and deforestation. (Sanjitpaal Singh / JITSPICS.COM©)

Continue reading Stop the Playbacks If You Love Helmeted Hornbills

“The Pandemic Killed Everything We Had Planned”

In their own words, conservationists share their their struggles during the Covid-19 pandemic. Part of Macaranga‘s Taking Stock series, these stories were written based on interviews; all interviewees approved the text.

DR WONG SIEW TE, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre

THE PANDEMIC killed everything that we had planned for this year.

We have one major source of revenue – visitors. There are other sources, of course: donations, bear adoption programmes.

But with job losses and the economy deteriorating, it has affected a lot of our supporters.

(Photo: To generate income, Wong Siew Te is offering live virtual tours of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre . Pic: BSBCC)

Continue reading “The Pandemic Killed Everything We Had Planned”

Covid-19 Woes Continue for Conservation

Dire finances and stunted activity continue to plague Malaysia’s conservation sector because of Covid-19. Macaranga surveys the landscape in our Taking Stock series.

FROM GAPS in research to the loss of funding and conversely, wider outreach, Malaysian conservation organisations of every size have been impacted by Covid-19.

But what exactly are these impacts? How have the organisations adapted to this crisis? And have they strengthened their resilience against future shocks?

(Photo: Educational activities involving volunteers and groups have been disrupted [Malaysian Nature Society Facebook])

Continue reading Covid-19 Woes Continue for Conservation

Taking Stock

THE ENVIRONMENTAL sectors of Malaysia, like the rest of the country, have been shaken by two major events: the Covid-19 crisis and a new government who has yet to set direction.

From activists and scientists to indigenous communities and tour operators, the sectors have and continue to experience uncertainty in the foreseeable future.

In the face of this double challenge, Macaranga is taking stock of environmental sectors in Malaysia in the next few months. We consider the impacts on their operations and plans for the year and their responses to these impacts.

Continue reading Taking Stock

In Defence of Orang Asli Rights

On Sept 25, the court heard an injunction application to stop private entities from logging and farming in Temiar customary land in Kelantan. This is the latest hearing related to the first legal action taken by the Malaysian federal government on behalf of Orang Asli regarding land rights. SL Wong and Darshana Dinesh Kumar report.

CAN YOU imagine having to barricade your home to prevent its destruction? That is what forest-based indigenous communities in Sabah and Sarawak have had to resort to for almost 40 years.

In Peninsular Malaysia, the Temiar Orang Asli community were forced to do so for the first time in 2012. The Gua Musang, Kelantan, communities started setting up barricades after repeatedly failing to resolve land use conflicts with the state government, federal agencies and companies. 

(Photo: The Pos Simpor community at the July Kota Bharu High Court hearing of the Kelantan state government’s application to strike out the AG’s suit. Courtesy of Siti Kasim)

Continue reading In Defence of Orang Asli Rights

Voices

Turtle Conservation Society

Our environment is our shared responsibility. But some people take on this responsibility more than others. And the world’s a better place for it. These are their voices.

(Photo: Educational talk on turtle and terrapin conservation to 900 students in Terengganu. Credit: Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia)

Kevin Hiew, Advisor, Reef Check Malaysia (Photo: SL Wong)

KEVIN HIEW WAI PHANG

Advisor, Reef Check Malaysia.

Winner of Edward T. LaRoe III Memorial Award, 2019.

“Conservation work…is really, really long term. I’m willing to go on doing it.”

 — Aug 2019; Photo: SL Wong

LYVIA CHONG KAI SYIN

Studies turtles at SEATRU, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu.

“Conservation needs everybody on board…before it’s too late.”

— Aug 2019; Photo: SL Wong

Researcher with Turtle Research Unit, UMT. Studies energetics of baby turtles. Credit: SL Wong
Ravinder Kaur runs hornbill conservation programs in Sabah through her NGO Gaia. Credit: YH Law

RAVINDER KAUR

Runs hornbill conservation programmes in Sabah through her social enterprise Gaia.

“Finally seeing the chick fledge…makes you feel like part of the family.”

— Aug 2019; Photo: YH Law

JEETHVENDRA KIRISHNAMOORTHIE

Restores coral reefs as a science officer with TRACC.

“This environment wants to survive … we’re good to give it a stepping stone.”

— Aug 2019; Photo: YH Law

Marine conservationist Jeethvendra helps restore coral reefs as a science officer with TRACC. He's doing a Master degree on an image-recognition tool for sea turtles.

MORE COMING SOON!

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References Link:

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On-Going Research:

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ICCB: All Things Conservation

[UPDATED: 25 August 2019]

HOW TO talk to poachers. Why biodegradable plastic isn’t good enough. When a roadside patch can serve as a natural history classroom.

This was the recent International Congress for Conservation Biology (ICCB) 2019 where Macaranga listened in, asked questions, and took notes. We tweeted and reported on some of the diverse and thought-provoking Malaysia-related topics presented there. (Check out our Twitter feed and follow us!)

Besides an analytical feature on the conference, our reports spotlighted conservationists and new research, showcasing how Malaysia fits into the global conservation landscape. We were also on BFM89.9 radio to discuss the event and its impact on local conservation.

Continue reading ICCB: All Things Conservation

A New Journalism Portal

[Updated 27 April 2020]

WELCOME to the Beta version of Macaranga, a new journalism portal covering the environment and sustainability in Malaysia. We aim to provide in-depth journalistic features on issues and build knowledge about ecosystems.

Our objective is to be relevant, insightful and accurate and to fill a gap in local content production.

Malaysian media coverage of the environment and sustainability has,
and continues to be overshadowed by a focus on economic development, in
line with national aspirations.

Global coverage is select and scattered.

This is despite Malaysia’s rich natural resources and growing economic costs of biodiversity loss and climate change.

Hence, Macaranga.

Research-based journalism

When we launched in 2019, Malaysia had a new government for the first
time in 60 years. In February this year, political realignments saw
another coalition government take over. The Covid-19 crisis began and
continues to cause uncertainty.

Through it all, there is an even greater need for deeply-researched,
engaging and accurately-reported stories about environmental issues —
stories which are significant nationally and beyond.

As such, the team is digging deep into our experience, networks within
and outside Malaysia, specialist knowledge and communication skills. We
are also collaborating with different groups and are aiming for more
collaborations.

We would like this digital, interactive platform to eventually become
a source of reliable and relevant information on Malaysia’s
environment.

Ultimately, we would like to inform, persuade, educate and connect
policy-makers, environmental groups, scientists, businesses, journalists
and the public to jointly pursue sustainable development.

The team

The portal is the brainchild of, and is run by Malaysia-based environmental and science writers, Law Yao Hua and SL Wong. Together, we have over 30 years of experience reporting, writing and producing content.

We have done work for local and international print, broadcast and online media, government and aid agencies, corporations and environmental organisations. We have also produced videos, podcasts, books, and run workshops.

Working with our content-producing and publishing network, we hope Macaranga will be an impactful digital multimedia platform.

We want to be as relevant as possible, so we welcome comments and feedback. Do also tell us what topics you feel we should cover here. And follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Huge thanks to Chong Su Weii (suu.work{at}gmail{dot}com) for helping us get this Beta website up.

(Photo: A botanist’s notebook – SL Wong)

WHAT IS MACARANGA?

Macaranga (Euphorbiaceae) is a family of tropical pioneer species that recolonises disturbed forest areas, paving the way for other species. It is found all over Malaysia — about 9% of the 300 known species call Malaysia home — as well as throughout Asia and beyond, as far as Africa.

Known locally as ‘mahang’, Macaranga has a symbiotic relationship with tree-living ants (Formicidae): the plant provides the ants food, the ants provide the plant protection from pests. Different parts of the plant are also widely used by humans in traditional medicine.

References:

Govaerts, R., et al (2019). World Checklist of Euphorbiaceae. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://wcsp.science.kew.org/ Retrieved 18 July 2019.

Nor Aishah Mazlan, Ahmed Mediani, Faridah Abas, et al., “Antioxidant, Antityrosinase, Anticholinesterase, and Nitric Oxide Inhibition Activities of Three Malaysian Macaranga Species,” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2013, Article ID 312741, 8 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/312741.