All posts by SL Wong

Mapping Every Hill

Interviewed: Dr Liew Thor Seng, biologist [thorseng@ums.edu.my]

IF YOU don’t know where all the limestone hills are, how will you know which to protect, which to quarry? Moreover, if you want to protect them, which ones do you begin with?

Well, decision-makers now have at their fingertips, Malaysia’s most comprehensive database and map of limestone hills.

(Photo: Screen capture of the online gazetteer showing details of limestone outcrop of interest in Malaysia | Courtesy of Liew Thor Seng)

Continue reading Mapping Every Hill

Budaya Main Peranan Penting dalam Menyelamatkan Kuda Laut

Kuda laut yang menakjubkan boleh menjadi ikon pemuliharaan laut dan perubahan iklim. Bagi menarik minat rakyat Malaysia, seorang penyelidik mengkaji kepelbagaian budaya yang diamalkan. Diterjemahkan oleh Hanna binti Norhisam.

[Read story in English | 点击阅读中文版]

SETIAP KALI ahli pemuliharaan Reana Ng masuk ke kedai perubatan tradisional Cina (PTC), beliau akan dipandang aneh, katanya dengan ironi. “Mereka tahu anda tidak datang untuk membeli ubat tradisional… Mengapa sebenarnya anda datang ke sini?”

Tanpa menghiraukan pandangan mereka, Ng terus mengunjungi kedai-kedai sebegini. Sejak Mac lalu, pelajar Ijazah Sarjana ini telah mengumpul maklumat mengenai kepelbagaian penggunaan kuda laut dan bagaimana rakyat di Semenanjung Malaysia menggunakannya.

(Gambar: Kuda laut kering digunakan dalam Perubatan Tradisional Cina selama berabad-abad  | Foto: Reana Ng)

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拯救海马, 不离文化

美丽的海马可以成为海洋保育和气候变迁的标志性物种。为了鼓励更多马来西亚人一同保育海马,研究人员正在探索我国使用海马的文化习俗。伍玉盈翻译。

[Read story in English | Baca artikel dalam Bahasa Malaysia]

环保主义者黄美燕(Reana Ng)透露,每当自己走进中药店,就会被店员看穿。她自我调侃地说道:“他们就是知道你不是来买药材的…然后他们会接着问,你来这里做什么?”

即便如此,她丝毫没有退缩,而是继续登门造访更多家的中药店。自从三月起,这位硕士生一直在收集有关海马各种用途,以及居住在马来西亚半岛的人民如何使用海马的资讯。

(图片:干海马在传统中药里的使用经有几个世纪的历史 | 黄美燕)

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To Save Seahorses, Culture Matters

[Updated 26 August 2021] The fascinating seahorse can be a marine conservation and climate change icon. To get Malaysians on board, a researcher looks at cultural practices.

[Versi Bahasa Malaysia | 点击阅读中文版]

 

WHENEVER conservationist Reana Ng walks into a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shop, she gets a “look”, she says wryly. “They just know that you’re not coming in to buy traditional medicine…Why are you here?”

Undeterred, Ng continues to visit these shops. Since March, this Masters student has been gathering information on the many uses of seahorses and on how people in Peninsular Malaysia use them.

(Photo: Dried seahorses have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries | Image by Reana Ng)

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When Invaders Move In On Batu Caves (And They Have)

From flowering plants to butterflies , invasive species are taking over Batu Caves. This alarming threat to the fragile limestone ecosystem needs addressing.

WE HAD trekked up Batu Caves for about 10 minutes when botanist Dr Ruth Kiew turned to me and asked, “Can you see the difference in the vegetation?”

“Between limestone and non-limestone vegetation, you mean?”

“Yes.”

I scanned the plants before me. This was pre-pandemic times and I had been researching limestone species from lists provided by Kiew.

(Photo: Invasive species threaten plants like the keladi (foreground), discovered only 2 years ago and found only on Batu Caves, says limestone specialist Ruth Kiew. ~ pic by SL Wong)

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Covid Provides Relief for Wildlife – but Not Really

With new lockdowns and closure of international borders, wildlife has been an increasingly common sight in Malaysia’s urban areas. But what does this mean? This commentary was first published on Channel News Asia and is republished here with permission.

[First posted May 27, 2021]

WHO DOESN’T like animal videos? Malaysians certainly do. 

With unending COVID-19 lockdowns, a subset of these have become social media favourites: Wild animals in urban areas.

Such visuals feed into the pandemic mantra of “Look how nature recovers when we humans are out of the picture”. But how true is that?

(Photo: Visuals of cute animals in human environments have been going viral during Covid-19; this one hasn’t but registers on the cute scale ~ Pic by Nuratiqah AR )

Continue reading Covid Provides Relief for Wildlife – but Not Really

法祖尔 — 曼塔纳尼岛的潜水长新生代

曼塔纳尼岛民莫赫德·法祖尔·本·马达利(Mohd Faizul bin Madali)终日无所事事,就等着疫情过去后游客们回来。他是一名潜水长,2020年3月封锁令之后一直没有工作,只能靠家人接济。

“之前我的生活是潜水、吃饭、睡觉”,22岁的法祖尔说,“现在是吃了睡,睡了吃。”

他说自己的村子有100人,几乎每个人都依靠旅游业谋生。岛上另一个比较大的村子的情况也是如此。曼塔纳尼岛是沙巴西北海岸附近群岛中唯一一个有人居住的岛屿。

游客目前仍然来不了,许多岛民已经重操旧业,以捕鱼为生。正如法祖尔所说,几乎没有其他选择:“不靠大海,我们还能从哪里获得收入?”

当被问及他们是否使用炸鱼弹时,他马上回答道:“不不不!不再用了。”他坚持认为,即使岛屿周围有炸鱼活动,那肇事者也是“外面的人,可能来自(沙巴大陆上的)亚庇(Kota Kinabalu)”。

法祖尔已经向当局报告封锁期间非当地渔船入侵的情况,为它们在浅水区使用渔网,破坏珊瑚而愤怒。

“我很难过,因为珊瑚之前还活着,但被他们弄死了。谢天谢地,还有法律(可以解决这个问题)……旅游业也依靠健康美丽的珊瑚。谁想看死珊瑚啊?中国游客很挑的!”

Faizul (second from right) joins other Reef Check Malaysia divers to “plant” new corals on a Mantanani reef destroyed by fish-bombing (Image: Adzmin Fatta / Reef Check Malaysia)
法祖尔(右二)与马来西亚珊瑚礁检查组织的潜水员一起在被炸鱼破坏的曼塔纳尼珊瑚礁上“种植”新的珊瑚。图片来源 :Adzmin Fatta / Reef Check Malaysia

法祖尔是一名持证的“生态潜水员”,同时还是马来西亚珊瑚礁检查组织旗下曼塔纳尼青年俱乐部(一个养护能力建设项目)的成员,并积极参与该组织的珊瑚调查活动。

但和其他岛民不同的是,法祖尔没有通过捕鱼来维持生计:“我怎么知道该如何捕鱼?我只会带人潜水,教他们怎么潜水。”

翻译:YAN/中外对话

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本文由Macaranga与中外对话China Dialogue Ocean合作完成。

遏制珊瑚礁间的炸鱼:沙巴州的故事

当旅游业遭新冠疫情重创,当地居民的生活难以为继,许多人担心这种破坏性捕捞方式将卷土重来

一声低沉的爆炸声响起,潜水员们愣在了原地,不安地看着同伴和潜水长。幸运的是,爆炸似乎离得非常远,不影响他们继续探索色彩斑斓的珊瑚礁。

在沙巴州,炸鱼是潜水业的噩梦,不仅让游客望而却步,而且还摧毁着海洋生物,并且危及渔民自身的安全。

(Photo: 沙巴的曼塔纳尼群岛(Mantanani islands)附近海域一枚未爆炸的自制捕鱼炸弹。图片来源:Adzmin Fatta / Reef Check Malaysia)

Continue reading 遏制珊瑚礁间的炸鱼:沙巴州的故事

Faizul — Mantanani’s Divemaster Generation

MANTANANI native Mohd Faizul bin Madali is twiddling his thumbs waiting for the pandemic to end and tourists to return.

He is a divemaster and has been without work since lockdowns began in March 2020, relying instead on his family to support him.

“Previously, my life was diving, eating, sleeping,” says the 22-year-old. “Now, it’s eating, sleeping, eating, sleeping.”

He says virtually everyone in his village of 100 people has been dependent on tourism. The same is true of the other, larger village on Mantanani, the only inhabited island of a small group off Sabah’s northwest coast.

Back to fishing

With tourists still unable to visit, many islanders have returned to fishing as a way to make a living. As Faizul remarks, there are very few alternatives: “Where else are we going to get an income if not from the sea?”

When asked if they use fish bombs, he is quick to respond: “No, no, no! Not any more.” If fish-bombing is taking place around the islands, he is adamant the perpetrators are “outsiders, maybe from Kota Kinabalu [on the mainland]”.

Faizul has reported to the authorities the intrusion of non-local fishing boats during lockdown, incensed that they used nets in shallow waters, destroying the coral.

“I felt sad because the coral used to be alive, but they killed it. Thank goodness there are laws [to tackle this]… Tourism also depends on corals being beautiful and healthy. Who wants to look at dead corals? And Chinese tourists are very particular!”

Faizul (second from right) joins other Reef Check Malaysia divers to “plant” new corals on a Mantanani reef destroyed by fish-bombing (Image: Adzmin Fatta / Reef Check Malaysia)
Faizul (second from right) joins other Reef Check Malaysia divers to “plant” new corals on a Mantanani reef destroyed by fish-bombing (All images: Adzmin Fatta / Reef Check Malaysia)

A certified “eco-diver”, Faizul is also part of Reef Check Malaysia’s Mantanani Youth Club, a capacity-building conservation initiative, and takes an active part in the NGO’s reef surveys.

Unlike other islanders, however, he has not turned to fishing to make ends meet: “How would I know how to do that? What I can do is bring people diving and teach them how to dive.”

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This Insight is a collaboration with China Dialogue Ocean.