Saving zoos during Covid-19 crisis—should we? (Pt 1)

Malaysian zoos lost almost all their income due to the Covid-19 crisis but were kept afloat partly by public donations. Was it worth Malaysians giving them millions? This is the first of the two-parter on zoos and aquaria in Macaranga’s Taking Stock series.

IN APRIL, the horrific possibility of animals from elephants to slow lorises starving to death behind bars, shocked Malaysians.

As is the case world-over, zoos and aquaria in Malaysia are heavily dependent on income from visitors. This income vanished overnight when Malaysia implemented measures to contain Covid-19.

The strict movement control order (MCO) that began on March 18, 2020 shut down all public venues, indefinitely at the time.

(Photo: Zoos’ revenues were hit hard during the pandemic, spotlighting the role of these parks in wildlife education and conservation. Pic by Cede Prudente)

Continue reading Saving zoos during Covid-19 crisis—should we? (Pt 1)

Of Strikes and Science

Youth climate action groups in Malaysia have a raft of actions drawn up for 2020. How will they proceed in the face of the Covid-19 crisis? This is the second of the two-parter on climate activists in Macaranga’s Taking Stock series.

THE PLACARDS always take the cake. “You’ll die of old age, I’ll die of climate change”. “Rumah Banyak, Bumi Hanya 1” (Houses are plentiful, there is only one earth). And of course, “Skipping my juris class to strike. Sorry Mr Rabinder.”

Climate strikes are a powerful rallying call to action against global warming. But they are just one component in the arsenal of youth climate movements in Malaysia (read our first report here).

(Photo: Climate strikes are eye-catching but far from the only form of activism. – pic courtesy of KAMY)

Continue reading Of Strikes and Science

Climate Action: Youth-Led, Not Youth-Only

Of all the environmental issues, the climate change crisis is touted as being closest in nature to the Covid-19 crisis, requiring the most similar global response. Macaranga’s Taking Stock series begins with this two-parter on climate change and the folks most associated with it – youth.

A PIVOT to digital activism. Postponed plans. Climate change youth activists in Malaysia are figuring out how to navigate uncertainties thrown up by Covid-19 and a new coalition government who has yet to define policy direction.

That youths appear to be leading the climate change charge results from the widespread attention to renowned teenage activist Greta Thunberg and her Fridays for Future student climate strikes.

(Photo: Despite perceptions, climate action is not the purview of youths alone – pic courtesy of KAMY)

Continue reading Climate Action: Youth-Led, Not Youth-Only

Taking Stock

(Updated 19 November 2020)

THE ENVIRONMENTAL sectors of Malaysia, like the rest of the country, were shaken in March 2020 by two major events: the Covid-19 crisis and a new government which seized power.

Over 6 months till October, Macaranga took stock of how 5 of these sectors were doing. The Insight reports looked at impacts as well as solutions and particularly whether there were opportunities to ‘build back better’.

Continue reading Taking Stock

Racing to Save a Plantation of Rare Trees

The bulldozing of millions of rainforest trees in private plantation Penawar Hutan has raised the profile of the value of gene banks for conservation.

IN FEBRUARY, endangered tree species in a plantation in Perak, whose lease had expired, were destroyed by a state-linked company. Mounting public concern brought the matter to the Menteri Besar who quickly stopped the bulldozing. The fate of the trees remains in limbo.

The 200-acre tree plantation in Tanjung Malim is owned and operated by private entity Penawar Hutan Sdn Bhd. It housed up to 2.5 million trees of hundreds of species.

(Photo: Penawar Hutan’s Sheila Ramasamy (left) showing the Perak Menteri Besar’s press secretary Adie Suri Zulkefli a bulldozed section of the plantation, Feb 24, 2020. Credit: YH Law)

Continue reading Racing to Save a Plantation of Rare Trees

A Final Home for Lynas’ Waste?

Lynas Malaysia has located a site in Pahang to build a permanent disposal facility for its radioactive waste, with consent from the state. But what is a permanent disposal facility?

MORE THAN 7 years after they started operations in Malaysia, rare earths producer Lynas Corporation might finally be within grasp of a state-approved solution for its radioactive waste.

In a January 30 statement, Lynas says it has identified a site with consent from the Pahang state government to build what it calls a ‘permanent disposal facility’ (PDF).

(Photo: The Lynas Advanced Materials Plant near Kuantan, Malaysia, March 11, 2019. The facility extracts rare earth oxides from ores imported from Australia and generates radioactive residue in the process. Credit: LawYH)

Continue reading A Final Home for Lynas’ Waste?

Dawn Bat (Eonycteris spelaea)

Species: Eonycteris spelaea (Mammalia : Chiroptera)

Known Range: Southeast Asia

Size: (Adult) 40-70 millimeter, length of a forearm

Interviewed: Zubaid Akbar Mukhtar Ahmad, bat scientist (zubaid.akbar[at]gmail.com)

(Photo: Eonycteris spelaea by Juliana Senawi)

“DO YOU like durians? Do you like petai?” These are the questions Zubaid asks when he’s trying to win some supporters for bats.

Continue reading Dawn Bat (Eonycteris spelaea)

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

Minute Land Snail (Whittenia vermiculum)

Species: Whittenia vermiculum (Gastropoda: Diplommanitidae) *

Known Range: Gunung Rapat limestone hill, Malaysia

Size: (Adult) 1.0 – 1.5 millimeters

Interviewed: Foon Junn Kitt, malacologist

(Photo: Whittenia vermiculum by Foon Junn Kitt)

HOW IS this a snail, and not just a tiny, whitish, swirly plastic tube? Even its species name, vermiculum, means ‘wormy’ in Latin, which aptly describes the snail’s shell.

Continue reading Minute Land Snail (Whittenia vermiculum)

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!

A Malaysian Environmental Journalism Site