All posts by Macaranga

In Defence of Orang Asli Rights

[First published Sept 26, 2019; updated Jul 3, 2021]

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!

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.

Ecosystems

This is where we feature the various ecosystems in Malaysia. From cloud forests to coral reefs, these are the rawest reasons we do environmental journalism. For each ecosystem, we tell the stories of not only the natural living and non-living components of these communities and systems, but also the human ones. Here, you can explore natural Malaysia in text, voice and photos, guided by the experience of those who know it well.

MANGROVE ECOSYSTEM

Mangroves, Kemaman, Terengganu (SK Chong/Sasyaz Holdings)
Mangroves, Kemaman, Terengganu (SK Chong/Sasyaz Holdings)

Living between sea and land are mangroves (‘bakau’), protectors of coasts, ‘reclaimers’ of land, nurseries for fish. An ecosystem that is at once wet and dry, brackish and saline, it is defined most by stilt roots and mudflats. But its biodiversity and ecosystem roles are larger and more complex than what meets the eye.

Awash in sea water twice daily, mangrove trees thrive in a challenging environment.

HOW DO MANGROVES ESCAPE THE SALT?

with Alison Kim Shan Wee
(Photo:
Alison Kim)

Boardwalk in mangrove forest at Matang, Perak, Malaysia

MANGROVE CARBON STORES

with A. Aldrie Amir
(Photo:
A. Aldrie Amir)

Saltwater crocodile in water.

REPTILE KING: Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)

with Wan Nor Fitri Wan Jaafar
(Photo: Wan Nor Fitri Wan Jaafar)

COMING SOON:

  • Mangrove Carbon Stores 
  • Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
Karst ecosystem: Land snail (Opisthostoma vermiculum) (Photo: Foon Junn Kit)

FOUR AXES: Minute land snail (Whittenia vermiculum)

with Foon Junn Kit
(Photo: Foon Junn Kit)

KKarst ecosystem: Cave cockroach Pycnoscelus striatus (Photo: Shaharin Yussof)

CAVE TRANSFORMER: Cave cockroach (Pycnoscelus striatus)

with Lim Teck Wyn
(Photo: Shaharin Yussof)

KARST ECOSYSTEM

Karst Ecosystem poster - Macaranga
Tower form, Gunung Rapat, Kinta Valley (photo: Cheang Kum Seng)

Popularly referred to as limestone (‘batu kapur’), Malaysia’s remarkable karst landscape has been sculpted by centuries of action of water on soft rock. It is also home to unique life-forms and is part of human life. Coming up, we talk to those who know it well to celebrate its myriad facets, in our first ecosystem spotlight.

Rock climbing on limestone (Photo: Chan Yuen Li)

SCALING HEIGHTS: Rock climbing

with Chan Yuen Li
(Photo:
Chan Yuen Li)

Dawn bat (Eonycteris spelaea) live in large roosts in limestone hill caves. One of the largest fruit bats in mainland Southeast Asia, dawn bats pollinate many species of fruit trees, including regional favourites durian and petai. (Photo: Juliana Senawi)

FOR DURIAN LOVERS: Dawn bat (Eonycteris spelaea)

with Zubaid Akbar Mukhtar Ahmad
(Photo: Juliana Senawi)

Karst ecosystem: Land snail (Opisthostoma vermiculum) (Photo: Foon Junn Kit)

FOUR AXES: Minute land snail (Whittenia vermiculum)

with Foon Junn Kit
(Photo: Foon Junn Kit)

KKarst ecosystem: Cave cockroach Pycnoscelus striatus (Photo: Shaharin Yussof)

CAVE TRANSFORMER: Cave cockroach (Pycnoscelus striatus)

with Lim Teck Wyn
(Photo: Shaharin Yussof)

COMING SOON:

Karst ecosystem: Perak Limestone (Photo: Cheang Kum Seng)

LIMESTONE LENSING: Karst photography

with Cheang Kum Seng
(Photo: Cheang Kum Seng)

Species Name 7

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