Sunday, July 31, 2016

TheWrinkleyBackpackers: Borneo – Semenggoh


Brace yourselves folks, for more Orangutans!!!

We looked at taking a trip to Semenggoh Orangutan Sanctuary…. It’s very similar to the rehabilitation centre we visited in Sepilok….

The Orangutans at Semenggoh are semi-wild, they are free to roam around in the jungle.

The cost of an organised tour was 85RM (Malaysian Ringgits) per person….. By making our own way there, using public transport, and including the entrance fee, we did it for 14RM each.

For anyone following our blog for travel tips, it’s the number 6 bus from the main bus station in Kuching.

We arrived at Semenggoh…. There is a long walk from the entrance to the sanctuary.

We had a safety briefing from one of the Rangers…..”Don’t go too close to the apes…. No flash photography…. No food in the area…. Silence at all times… etc, etc”.

We went to the feeding platform but we only got to see one young female orangutan.

She came swinging down from the tree-tops, grabbed some fruit, and went back into the trees.

She hung from a rope, ate the fruit, and then disappeared into the jungle again.

She didn’t come any closer.

The tourists are asked to be very quiet whenever Orangutans are around, but there was a mother (human) carrying a baby.

The baby kept crying and screaming. This probably scared the young orangutan away, and prevented any others from coming near.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: TheWrinkleyBackpackers: Borneo – Semenggoh
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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Third Borneo Rhythms of Rimba Festival Aug 20-21


SANDAKAN: Future Alam Borneo society will be bringing the most diverse, experiential education programme to its Borneo Rhythms of Rimba (ROR) Wildlife Festival platform this year.

Members of the public will be able to explore the theme of ‘Extinction and the day after’ over two days on August 20-21 at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok here, interpreting and exploring the global issues transforming our natural environment and how it may affect us all in the end.

Spread over five zones of content, namely Conservation, Adventure, Creative, Music and the new addition of Cinema, there will be over 150+ content providers from throughout Malaysia and internationally.

The highlights of ROR 2016 include the founder of Mongabay.com, Rhett Butler, whose site publishes news on environmental science, energy and green design and features extensive information on tropical rainforests, with over 1 million viewers every year.

The new Cinema zone will further support the Conservation emphasis. Borneo Eco Film Festival (BEFF), Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Festival (KLEFF), Singapore Eco Film Festival (SGEFF) and the International Elephant Film Festival (via the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur) will all be bringing film reels to show, offering over 15 films and shorts at ROR this year.

In the Creative & Music zones, there will be artists from throughout Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia including Sada Borneo and Russell Curtis. Workshops will range from craft to dance, targetted at young children to adults.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Third Borneo Rhythms of Rimba Festival Aug 20-21
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Sabah International Folklore Festival 2016: A night to remember


KOTA KINABALU: Dance troupes from all over the world staged an array of stellar performances at the Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) 2016 International Folklore Dance Competition, to the delight of a capacity crowd gathered at the Sabah Cultural Centre to watch one of the most awaited events of the year.

In yet another exciting show putting the spotlight on the melting pot of cultures, dance groups from 11 participating countries took to the stage to deliver their traditional dances based on their interpretation of this year’s SIFF 2016 theme “The Warrior”.

Bringing elegance and grace to the stage, dancers adorned in their South Korean folk dress presented a breath-taking cultural dance which captivated the audience.

The dance which was presented by the Kim Mija Dance Company, was traditionally performed for generals and soldiers returning from battle.

Among those at the festival were Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun who also launched the event on behalf of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman, as well as Mayor of Kota Kinabalu City, Datuk Yeoh Boon Hai.

The festival next headed to South Asia, putting the spotlight on Sri Lankan culture with young dancers from the RanRanga Dance Academy presenting a graceful starting performance before their older counterparts dazzled the crowd with an exhilarating traditional dance medley.

Irish group – the Gaellic Girls Dancing Troupe were clear crowd favourites of the night who performed a medley of exciting toe-tapping music of traditional Irish Jigs and reels in a dance based on an old Irish folklore about the mysterious Selkie, a mythical creature. According to Irish folklore, Selkies are said to live as seals in the sea but shed their skin to become human on land.

Members of the audience cheered the host country took to the stage who delivered a hauntingly fascinating cultural Kelantanese dance which was traditionally performed for kings and warriors during the olden days.

Among the many fascinating shows of the night include the exciting Bhangra Desire Folk Art Club of India who really set the stage alive with their vibrant and lively Punjabi Warrior dance. The dance group of the Philippines also staged an exciting cultural performance of the Visaya tribe which drew loud cheers from the crowd.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

All orangutan habitats in Sarawak are Totally Protected Areas


KUCHING: All orangutan habitats in Sarawak – Batang Ai National Park, Ulu Sebuyau National Park, Sedilu National Park and Lanjak Entimau Wild Life Sanctuary are Totally Protected Areas (TPAs).

Around 1,600 orangutans roam freely in the contiguous TPAs of Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak Entimau Wild Life Sanctuary.

In the effort to enhance management and protection of orangutans, the state government collaborated with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) last year to draw up ‘An Orangutan Strategic Action Plan’ that will provide a holistic approach to the management and protection of these animals.

This plan includes expanding the boundary of Batang Ai National Park to include the area around Ulu Sungai Menyang, where surveys estimated there are some 200 orangutans.

A Conservation Centre of Excellence (CCOE) for orangutan research has also been established in Batang Ai National Park.

Research data and results would be used to draw up a comprehensive management plan for orangutans in Sarawak.

Last year, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem launched the Rimba Sarawak project (Research for Intensified Management of Bio-Rich Areas of Sarawak), allowing international researchers into the state’s forest estates, especially TPAs.

It aims to provide a platform for international collaborative research in developing intensive, practical conservation management procedures for bio-rich areas including the conservation of orangutans in Sarawak.

WCS Malaysia programme director Dr Melvin Gumal said then there is no other country that he is aware of that has set that kind of focus.

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Korean dance kicks off Sabah International Folklore Festival


KOTA KINABALU: Eleven countries performed at the opening night of the 11th Sabah International Folklore Festival here yesterday.

The first performance was by the ensemble from South Korea. The all-female Korean dancers performed the Jango dance, a traditional welcoming dance for warriors after a battle.

It was followed by the Sri Lankan dance performed mainly by young children and the Russian acrobatic performance from the Republic of Sakha Yakuthia.

Malaysia was represented by a dance ensemble from Peninsular Malaysia which performed a Kelantanese dance.

One of the favorites at the show was the traditional Irish dance which tells of the traditional folklore story of the Selkies, a seal like creature that lives in the Irish sea.

When the Selkies leave the water they shed their seal skin to become beautiful young women and dance to the Irish dancing steps.

The performers perform in both soft and hard shoes and are accompanied by an all-male musicians also from Ireland.

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MASwings, MAS asked to review operations in Sarawak


KUCHING: MASwings and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) have been asked to review operations in Sarawak to provide better air connectivity.

Assistant Minister of Sarawak Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin also called on MASwings to review its airfare.

“I would like MASwings to review their operations and also to work with the Ministry of Transport because many of the sectors operated by MASwings are subsidised to facilitate travel in the rural areas.

“We have also arranged to meet the Minister of Transport soon to discuss some issues affecting our air connectivity in Sarawak,” he told a press conference after receiving a courtesy call from MASwings chief executive officer Capt Izham Ismail and senior manager Karen Leiking from the MAS group chief executive officer’s office yesterday.

Lee, who is also Assistant Minister for Land and Air Transportation and Safety, also requested MASwings look into reinstating the Kuching-Pontianak flight as the sector is important for the medical tourism industry.

“There are a lot of people who are from across the border from Kalimantan coming to Kuching to seek medical treatment. The Indonesian Consulate-General in Kuching had also requested whether we can reinstate the flight so that it will be more convenient for people to come here.”

He said MAS should also relook its flight schedule in the state.

“The flights within Sarawak had been reduced. For example, the flights from Miri to Kuching had been reduced. We used to have a flight at noon and in the evening. All these flights had been discontinued,” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: MASwings, MAS asked to review operations in Sarawak
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Strategies required to improve load for Mulu flights


KUCHING: MASwings has been asked to work with tour operators to improve the load for flights to Mulu.

Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin said the average load from Kuching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu to Mulu is only about 30 per cent.

He said this was contrary to feedback from local tour operators that they had difficulty getting tickets for flights to Mulu due to limited seats.

“I went through MASwings’ record to Mulu just now, not only from Miri, but also Kuching and Kota Kinabalu and found out that there is still opportunity for growth for the load factor,” he told a press conference following a courtesy call from MASwings chief executive officer Capt Izham Ismail and senior manager Karen Leiking from the MAS group chief executive officer’s office yesterday.

MASwings’ ATR aircraft currently flies once a day from Kuching to Mulu and Kota Kinabalu to Mulu, as well as twice daily from Miri to Mulu.

“I will arrange for a meeting between tour operators, especially in Miri with the chief executive officer, to discuss how they can work together to come up with a package together with the Miri-Mulu flight.

“Perhaps MASwings needs to review the whole thing such as the airfare. Of course, they are facing problems with low passenger load and the losses they are incurring, but I think we need to work out on how the industry and MASwings can support each other so that we can improve the load factor,” he said.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Traveling Hungry Geographers: Our adventure to Brunei


Recently, we were lucky enough to get a few days off of school for Buddhist lent and it just so happened that we needed to do a border bounce for our visas. So where did we decide to travel? . . . Brunei! Neither of us had heard much about the small county and thought it would be a unique experience and another check-mark on our list to visit all of the ASEAN countries.

Where is Brunei?

Some of you may be wondering, where is Brunei? … maybe even what is Brunei?!?

Brunei is a small country located on the island of Borneo, surrounded by Sarawak, Malaysia. It is the 5th wealthiest country in the world and is home to some of the oldest rainforest in the world! It’s twice the age of the Amazon rainforest.  For the geographers reading this, a lot of it is still primary growth, so yeah, it is definitely a forest lover’s dream! The country is ruled by a Sultan who recently introduced Sharia law as the law of the land. Therefore, alcohol is banned and non-existent (except non-Muslims are allowed to bring in a small amount with many restrictions).
How to get there:

Getting to Brunei can be easy! The airport is trying to market itself with the help of Singapore as a stopover destination for tourists from Australia, New Zealand, and more! We found ourselves a flight out of Krabi to Kuala Lumpur, and then from KL to Brunei.  For those living in Southeast Asia it is typically cheaper to by a second flight out of KL then going straight through.

Our Trip - Day 1:

Before coming to Brunei, we really did not know what to expect. When we finally arrived in the airport we were greeted by the mother and daughter of the family we were staying with through Airbnb. They picked us up and another girl from Chiang Mai and drove us to their apartment. 

The drive was quite beautiful, everything was green and there were spurts of giant mansions.  There was almost no traffic, which was quite surprising as everyone in the country pretty much has 1 or more cars because gas is CRAZY cheap ( 53 cents) and cars are also extremely cheap ( someone told us about 5,000 Bruneian Dollars for a very good used car [3700 USD]).

The apartment we stayed in was extremely nice and in a great location within walking distance of many attractions. Our host family had recently moved to Brunei from Indonesia. The mother was a stay at home mom originally from Indonesia and the husband is originally from Sarawak Malaysia, but of Chinese decent (just a few hours away). They have a two year old daughter who was learning English and Chinese and loved to play with us when we were around. The family was extremely nice, helped us out with directions, gave us rides and made an amazing breakfast!  Please check them out on Airbnb if you are planning a trip to Brunei.

For our first night in town we were not really sure what to do. We decided to go downtown. Our first and important stop was to find food!! We were recommended a small stand down the street from where we were dropped off called Nasi Kotak Mama.

This is where I learned that Brunei food might just be my all time favorite food. The stand serves different pieces of chicken  and rice, covered in the traditional sambal sauce, and all for $1! It may sound simple, but this sauce was so tasty, I am really upset I can’t find any in Thailand. The lady who worked at the stand was extremely friendly and even gave us a complimentary water when she learned we had just arrived.

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Homestays generated RM4.31 mln for Sarawak last year


MIRI: The 35 clusters of homestays in Sarawak received 31,379 visitors and generated an income of RM4.31 million last year.

Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin said through intensified activities under the Malaysian Homestay Programme, Sarawak’s target of five million tourist arrivals this year could be achieved.

“These statistics prove that the homestay industry is a dynamic industry, one of the main attractions for tourists coming to Sarawak. And the best way for them to know better the cultures and traditions of the local communities is through the Malaysian Homestay programmes,” he said during the opening of a basic course on homestays yesterday.

Last year, a total of 4.517 million visitors came to Sarawak.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Tourism and Culture state director Suriya Charles Buas said Sarawak is the top five most active state in homestay programmes after Johor, Melaka, Selangor and Sabah. For the first five months of this year, the 187 homestay clusters nationwide received 148,978 visitors.

“The figure is an increase of 3 per cent compared with the same period last year. The income of homestays in January to May also increased to RM10,709,256, or 0.9 per cent from RM10,608,831 recorded during the same period in 2015,” he said.

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Sabah cultural troupe for Global Indigenous Peoples Performing Arts Festival in Taiwan


KOTA KINABALU: The dance troupe from KDCA will be representing Malaysia at the 3rd Global Indigenous Peoples Performing Arts Festival in Taiwan which will be held from July 29 to August 8.

They will be performing three dances, namely, the ‘Huminodun’ (Legend of Kadazandusun), the ‘Magunatip’ (Murut Warrior Dance) and the ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ which showcases the diversity of Malaysia’s culture.

The delegation from Malaysia is headed by Malaysia-Taiwan Trade and Economic Association (Culture Bureau) director Datuk Chua Soon Bui.

Speaking to reporters before the delegation’s departure yesterday, Chua said that this is the first time Malaysia has been invited to participate in the event. She disclosed that the main organizers from Malaysia to coordinate with the Taiwan Indigenous Peoples Council are the Yayasan Kesenian Orang Asli and Malaysia-Taiwan Trade and Economic Association (Culture Bureau).

“We also have the support of the Malaysia Tourism Board and Sabah Tourism Board,” said Chua, who is also Yayasan Kesenian Orang Asli secretary.

“We are privileged to be invited to the global event to showcase to the world the music and dances of KadazanDusun Murut community from Sabah as well as the cultural diversity of Malaysia,” she added.

According to Chua, Malaysia is among the nine countries in the event. The others are host Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, USA (Hawaii), Chile, Fiji, Tahiti and Swaziland.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

CuriosTraveller: Haus Cafe @ Kota Kinabalu, Sabah


Some said it’s a cafe with unfinished design. Some said it’s a hipster cafe. We said, it’s a cafe with Industrial Design, purposely left unfinished on some parts, implying a big statement, a significant impact and trademark readily for viewing to those passing by.

Alluring that is, as if it’s a call for people to come in and check out what’s inside. That is definitely genius and smart. Welcome to Haus Cafe, one burgeoning cafe in Kota Kinabalu City, we must say.

The concept is different. While other cafes tend to outshine competitors, Haus look at things differently. Being humble that is. The owner intend to create that community feels by ensuring that the cafe is fit for people of all ages and background.

It ain’t only for the avid coffee hunters and young career people (as you can see in many other cafes), the door opens for everyone.

About Haus Cafe

Haus cafe is owned and managed by Farish Aziz, a well known actor, a celebrity that is. Being super talented he broadened his ‘skills’ by opening the Haus Cafe. Located at 88 Marketplace, Kota Kinabalu, the cafe started it’s business on December 22, 2015.

Operating from 9 AM to 11 PM daily (Except Tuesday-Off day), the cafe is supervised by the Manager, Ms.Charleen. Though pretty being compared with other cafe’s products, the Manager told us that Haus is readily to introduce more food creations that differ from what people are getting from cafes alike. According to Charleen, Farish Aziz himself keep infusing his positive thoughts into the overall Haus concept.

Food and Beverage Menu

Food

There are about 12 or so items in the Food Menu, with some being main(s) while the rest are sides. It’s quite fascinating to see some menu with unusual names such as Tamaha and Tabarus. 

Probably that’s the radical thought of a young clever business person such as Farish Aziz, daring to bringing up the cafe Industry one level up. Being radical in business is a must nowadays. It is one of many creative ways to attract customers.

Brilliant idea, Farish! Such names made we wondered for a while and I became more curious. Curious to know what’s on the plate for that super unique food names.

Price wise, it’s mid range for the average customers, the lowest being RM5.00 and max at RM24.00. Simply put, affordable for all.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: CuriosTraveller: Haus Cafe @ Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
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Sarawak experimental world music band wins opportunity to perform at Rainforest World Music Festival 2017


KUCHING: Experimental world music band At Adau emerged champion of the Waterfront Music Fest 2016 band search competition held at Godown Amphitheatre, Kuching Waterfront here recently, winning the opportunity to perform in front of thousands at the prestigious Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in 2017.

For their achievement, At Adau bagged a trophy, cash prize of RM1,500, and a certificate. Loka Projek and Rawi were first and second runner-ups, respectively.

Organised by Kuching Waterfront Management in collaboration with Sarawak Tourism Board, the three-day event themed ‘Feel the Rhythm of the World’ that started on July 21 aimed to give an opportunity for up-and-coming bands to perform at the RWMF.

Other competing bands included Intan Buskers, Pinanak Senta, CAC’s bands and Burnin Leaves Nation. They were judged by Sarawak Cultural Village head of heritage resource centre Narawi Rashidi, RWMF artistic director Yeoh Jun Lin, and music composer Stephen Chin.

RWMF2016 will take place at Sarawak Cultural Village from Aug 5-7. It will feature a treasure trove of music, arts, crafts, food and culture with nightly performances from 26 local and international performing groups and over 30 workshops.

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Murut ethnic clothes for Sabah International Folklore Festival participants


KOTA KINABALU: Exchanging ethnic clothes and KK City Folklore Parade were the highlights on the third day of 11th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF), yesterday.

Chairman of Sabah Cultural Board, Tan Sri Wences Angang, said the exchanging of ethnic clothes was one of efforts to educate local people about the diversity and uniqueness of the ethnic clothes from other countries.

This year, Sabah has chosen the ethnic clothes of the Murut people, to be given as a gift to the countries involved, and they would also reciprocate with their respective ethnic attires.

“With the ethnic clothes given, we are promoting Sabah to the world, especially to the participating countries,” he added.

Eleven countries are participating in this year’s in SIFF, namely Australia, Estonia, Ireland, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

After the exchanging of ethnic clothes ceremony was held at Sabah Art Gallery in Penampang, dancers from all participating countries paraded from Suria Sabah shopping mall, showcasing some of their dance moves at Dataran Deasoka before ending the third of the nine-day event for Folklore High Tea Ceremony at Kota Kinabalu City Hall.

Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai said the SIFF would no doubt enable the people of Sabah, especially in Kota Kinabalu, to enjoy a sensational blend of ethnic dances as well as musical presentations from all participating countries.

Yeo said he believed the festival was not only to celebrate the heritage of different countries, but also a platform for cultural exchange.

“Thus, this festival would definitely benefit the people of Sabah through professional cultural dances from different parts of the world at our very own door step,” he said in his speech at the Kota Kinabalu City International Folklore Parade in conjunction with the 11th SIFF here yesterday.

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Sabah ideal destination for retired expatriates


PENAMPANG: Sabah could be considered as a destination for retired expatriates, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.

Sabah is a place where people of different racial backgrounds lived peacefully with each other and respected one another, he said.

He said that foreigners wanting to live in a peaceful environment would be able to experience that in Sabah as problems associated with racial and religious differences were non-existent.

“Sabah is your destination for retirement,” he said at a welcoming dinner for the participants of the 11th Sabah International Folklore Festival held at the Penampang Cultural Centre near here on Monday night.

He added that Sabah was home to more than 30 ethnic groups, each one free to practise their own belief and tradition without any problems.

Commenting on the event, Masidi said that it was a venue that allows people of the world to showcase their tradition and cultures.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

MASwings told to wise up on Mulu National Park


KUCHING: MASwings’ limited seats and refusal to outsource the Mulu National Park route to others is bad for the state’s tourism industry.

Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik said MASwing’s stranglehold on that sector had capped the number of visitors to the world-renown park, which was awarded the prestigious world heritage recognition by Unesco in 2000.

“At the rate it is going, it is not helping the state government in promoting tourism sector due to its poor connectivity,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.

In appealing to the airline to improve its connectivity to Mulu National Park, Ik Pahon said, “We have a world heritage site but MASwings is not doing enough to assist us in providing more flights there.

He opined that MASwings should outsource the service to others if it could not service that route properly.

Meanwhile, Ik Pahon urged tourism players to be more aggressive by promoting Mulu National Park and Kinabalu National Park as a twin package for mutual benefits.

“Both Mulu National Park and Kinabalu National Park have been described as the paradise of Borneo. However, we are still not able to capitalise on their huge potential.

But he was glad the local community, especially the Berawans, was setting up more homestay for visitors in the area.

“So far, the Berawans has set up at least 10 homestay near Mulu National Park. This means visitors now have the choice whether to stay in a 5-star resort or in a longhouse setting.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: MASwings told to wise up on Mulu National Park
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Monday, July 25, 2016

Six marine parks in Sabah as sanctuaries for sharks


KUDAT: Six marine parks managed by Sabah Parks have been declared as shark sanctuaries to ensure the shark population is protected.

Minister of Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that it is part of the state government’s effort to conserve shark as the federal government refused to make amendments on the Fisheries Act to ban shark finning.

“This is very important in the context of preserving shark population although we failed to get the relevant federal government’s ministry to agree on banning shark finning,” he said when met at the launching ceremony of Tun Mustapha Marine Park by Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman here yesterday.

However, he said that initial enforcement may not result in punitive measures but more on educating the offenders. “We would start the initiative of the creation of shark sanctuary by educating the people so that they too have ownership of the programme. At the end, the success or the failure of the programme depends on how much the people feel that it belongs to them.

“The most effective way to implement the sanctuary is to educate the local community, so the initial enforcement may not result in punitive measure but some extensive education and we want the locals, the fishermen to be with us, i.e. we are in the same team,” he added.

Masidi stressed education as an important part of conservation as he admittedly said that part of the reasons why the protection of wildlife failed is the relevant authorities’ failure to educate the villagers on the need for sustainable way of keeping the wild animals in the wild.

Therefore, he said that the success of any enforcement is not because of the laws in place but rather when the people feel they are part of the system.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Six marine parks in Sabah as sanctuaries for sharks
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Tun Mustapha Park - Huge tourism impact


KUDAT: The Tun Mustapha Park which was gazetted as the largest marine protected area in the region is expected to create a huge impact on Sabah’s tourism and aquaculture industries, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

He said the proclamation which involved an area of 898,762.76 hectares covering the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas, not only proved the state government’s commitment to preserving and conserving Sabah’s natural surroundings but also showed its seriousness in addressing socio-economic development for the benefit of the people.

As such Musa said it was hoped that with the gazetting, various agencies, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Sabah Fisheries Department, Fisheries Association and the local communities would cooperate in the sustainable management of marine biodiversity in Sabah waters, especially in Kudat, Pitas and Kota Marudu.

“With the gazetting too Malaysia’s commitment towards the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Environment Programme (CBD-UNEP) to protect at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas before 2020 will undoubtedly be achieved,” he said when launching the Tun Mustapha Park, here yesterday.

The Tun Mustapha Park which was declared a marine park under Sabah Parks Enactment 1984 (Amendment 2007) on May 19 is the ninth park to come under the Sabah Parks Management. It is the largest marine park in Sabah and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the gazetting was a historic achievement for Sabah and his ministry had been given the trust to see that the preservation of the marine park was managed more efficiently.

He said the goal and expectation of establishing the park was to protect marine and coastal ecosystems and at the same time improve the fishing industry as well as create more opportunities for the Sabah tourism industry which would in return benefit the local community.

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre - Entering the great apes’ domain


SOON enough, after I arrived, I could hear branches rustling, and as I looked up towards the sky, I saw dark shapes moving high among the forest canopy.

They were ‘the men of the forest’ — the orangutans of  Semenggoh Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre — slowly making their way towards the feeding platform near the information centre.

The platform is located at a clearing area against a huge tree, about 50 metres from the roped-off observation centre.

It was so amazing coming face to face with the endangered orangutans of Borneo. These graceful, red-haired great apes are really active, alternating between eating, climbing and swinging across the suspended ropes strung between the trees, leading to the feeding platform.

On the platform were some food — bananas and sweet potatoes. Three of the primates had shown up. There was seven-year-old Endu, Delima’s youngest offspring. After being orphaned, Endu was cared for by her sister, Selina.

Making her way to the platform, Endu was closely followed by Selina and one other relative — Anaku.

Endu was really cute and playful, even taking some time to pose for professional and amateur photographers among tourists while descending to the platform.

When I turned to look, I saw her munching some food before stuffing her mouth with more food, especially bananas.

When Selina and Anaku clambered onto the platform, Endu climbed back up to the rope to eat by herself.

Anaku, 10, is the first offspring of Analisa and Seduku’s first grandchild, making him the first of the third generation of orangutans at the centre. His name is a combination of Ana from Analisa (mother) and Ku from Seduku (grandmother).

It is said since a very young age, he has shown remarkable jungle skills and has now grown to be an independent young male, bravely venturing into the forest of Semenggoh on his own.

Selina, born in 2004, is the first daughter of Delima, and said to have inherited her mother’s unique sense of style.

The drama-queen princess has now transformed into a very popular belle among the male orangutans and is currently Ritchie’s girlfriend.

After the death of Delima, Selina has reportedly taken on the role of mother to her young sister, Endu.

Then, we proceeded to the platform inside the park, and having her meal was 20-year-old Analisa, the first offspring of Seduku and the first female orangutan born in Semenggoh.

She became a mother at age of 10 to Anaku in 2006 and gave birth the second time to Digital Guro in 2012.

Her mother Seduku is the ‘Grand Old Lady’ of Semengoh and a grandmother now at 55.

Her playful nature is akin to Delima’s and she is often seen having a tumble on the ground and swinging among the trees.

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Tun Mustapha Park, Malaysia's largest marine park, officially launched


KUDAT: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman launched Tun Mustapha Park (TMP), Malaysia's biggest marine park, here today.

The park, spanning approximately 898762.76 hectares, promises better marine protection and conservation in this part of the world.

It was declared a protected area under the Sabah Parks Enactment 1984 by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah Tun Juhar on May 19.

Speaking to the local community and tourists, Musa said the success of the gazettement was part of the state government's efforts in advancing the people's socio-economy through various sectors.

"This is a historical event for us. With the establishment of this large marine park, Malaysia's commitment in the Convention of Biological Diversity, United Nations Environment Programme to protect at least 10 per cent of the marine and coastal area can be achieved by 2020."

Present at the launch of the TMP were State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun and assistant minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, and State Special Tasks Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang.

In 2003, the TMP was proposed by the Sabah government shortly after it was recognised as a globally-significant priority marine conservation area.

The marine park is located off the districts of Kudat, Kota Marudu and Pitas right up to the Balabac Strait.

It is also is situated within the Coral Triangle which is a six million sq km marine area that directly sustains and protects more than 120 million people in coastal communities across Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste.

With its declaration, the size of protected marine parks in Sabah now stretches to about two million hectares along with the Tun Sakaran Marine Park and the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.

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Promote Borneo Cultural Festival to attract foreign tourists


SIBU:  Assistant Minister for Science Research and Biotechnology Dr Annuar Rapaee wants the Borneo Cultural Festival (BCF) to attract more foreign tourists, mirroring the success of Kuching’s Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF).

In giving this suggestion, Annuar reasoned that BCF had come of age; hence, should no longer be confined to just locals. He noted there were several factors to look into for the festival to move in that direction.

The three that he highlighted were the need for good publicity to introduce the event to foreign tourists, the performances that needed to be of high standard to entice visitors from outside Sibu, and air connectivity.

“There are not many foreigners who know about BCF. The festival is into its 13th year, and has come to a very mature stage.

“So, I think it is high time for BCF to open up in a big way so as to attract more foreigners to come. The RWMF has attracted a lot of foreign tourists, and I am sure BCF will also be able to do so,” the Nangka assemblyman told reporters after officiating at the opening of Malay/Melanau pavilion here on Friday night.

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

South Korean low-cost carrier starts KK direct flight


KOTA KINABALU: Jeju Air, South Korea’s pioneer low-cost carrier, seriously contends to increase Korean arrivals into Sabah, its first Malaysian destination.

Its vice president, Seok-joo Lee revealed, the company is targeting an overall USD700 millon in annual sales for 2016 and is expecting its July 20 commenced daily direct flight into Kota Kinabalu from Incheon to contribute a lot into the figure this year.

Lee said, the 10-year old Jeju Air transformed the country’s international air travel accessibility and caused an explosive increase in overseas travel among the Korean population travel, in general.

“We experienced over 20% growth since then and our annual growth rate is still over 20%,” said the vice president at the Jeju Air inauguration flight press conference at Sabah Tourism Board building here yesterday.

“There was a dramatic turnaround around 2010 and last year, we went IPO (initial public offering). We were pioneer of Korean LCC industry but nowadays in Korean LCC industry there are five LCCs in Korea. They are experiencing explosive schedules as well, that means there are more Koreans traveling overall.

“We increase market size in general. We serve more people to go all over the world so if you see Jeju Air in your market, Kota Kinabalu, that means there will be more Koreans to come here. You will see more LCC from Korea as well because we are leading player, so everyone here, I would like to say like this, please expect more to come from Korea with Jeju Air and we will do our best to serve everyone here at Kota Kinabalu,” he added.

Jeju Air had thus far kept around 20% lower than full serve carrier rates in every market penetrated and will maintain the same price policy in Sabah, pledged Lee.

According to Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, the Korean market average load factor had seen an increase of 87% thus far compared to the 81.3% for 2015.

However, he urged Sabahans to reciprocate by traveling to the country from the state.

“What we are going to do to ensure that they continue to fly? Simple. Not only we want the Koreans to come in but we also want to encourage Sabahans to go there and use their airlines,” said Masidi.

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KK Jazz Festival reaches musical milestone


Kota Kinabalu: KK Jazz Festival (KKJF) 2016 Organising Chairman Jack Ong said the event has reached a musical milestone with its 10th anniversary this year.

"Much has changed in the local music scene since then where the original idea of the festival was to create a musical event where Sabahans and tourists to the State would be able to enjoy some music."

He added the main objective of the festival of course is to raise funds for the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu's (RCKK) many community projects in the State which benefits the disadvantaged in society.

Ong said KKJF also appreciates the continuous support of main Sponsor Yayasan Sime Darby, Ministry of Tourism, Sabah Tourism Board and City Hall, Mah Sing, Carlsberg and many others.

He said the festival has now become a tourism event in the city where it is a premier music event in the Sabah Tourism Calendar as well as a key component of the Kota Kinabalu Arts Festival .

"We also conduct the Sabah Jazz talent search every year to find Sabahan jazz talents and this year we will feature international and Malaysian talents such as Bobby Taylor, Juzzie Smith, Juwita Suwito, Shanghai Jazz Festival trio, WVC band, Borneo Big Band & Joan Jim , RTM Combo, 4B's, Momain Blues, Sabahan talents such as Appy Tots including Elton Wong who will be playing jazz piano at the festival."

Ong said this during a press conference on Friday at Sutera Harbour Marina theatre on the KKJF event on July 22-23 from 7pm to 11pm.

KKJF 2016 Co- Organising Chairman Roger Wang said this year's KKJF 2016 festival would also see some performers coming back from the previous years' KKJF.

"We have a long list of nine years of performers and selecting them wasn't easy. Some bands were not available, some were just passing through as part of their world tour then and some don't exist anymore and some of our past performers have sadly passed away.

"But in the end we just wanted to get back to our original format where we featured more than 50 per cent local Sabahan jazz talents.

"This is something we are proud of as it really made a difference to the local Kota Kinabalu music scene.

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Female sape player comes home to Rainforest World Music Festival


KUCHING: Alena Murang, a promising young musician and visual artiste from Kuching, will share the stage during the 19th Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) on Aug 5-7 at Sarawak Cultural Village in Damai.

“My cousins and I learnt Kelabit dancing since we were six and at some point, seven of us decided to pick up the sape so that we can have music to dance to at a rhythm, beat and length that we wanted,” she said, when asked about the beginning of her path to play the sape professionally.

She is one of the first females to openly perform and teach the sape, an ethnic instrument from Borneo that used to be taboo for women to even touch. She attributes her decision to pursue the art to the encouragement of her mother and aunts.

She went on to master the sape under the tutelage of national living legend, Mathew Ngau Jau, and has performed in over 20 cities so far, including New York and London.

She is one of a few sape players to sing while playing the instrument. Her performance includes singing traditional songs in the Kenyah and Kelabit dialects from the Orang Ulu of Ulu Baram.

Alena has previously performed on the RWMF stage, and has attended the festival since its inception in 1998.

“RWMF has played a large part in my music and art career, and I feel that coming back to perform at RWMF is almost like coming full circle for me,” she said.

Alena has followed in the footsteps of her mentor and now teaches the sape to anyone who would like to learn, be it Orang Ulu who wish to learn their own musical tradition or even foreigners who have been captivated by the instrument.

She hopes that others within the state of Sarawak will follow in her footsteps to preserve their various cultural and musical arts, because they are ‘priceless and irreplaceable’.

“Sarawakians have so much musical heritage to treasure – Bidayuh chants, old Iban tunes, Penan nose flute to name a few – and I just hope that each of us can work on learning these, and share our music on a global platform,” she added.

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Motown legend Bobby Taylor at KK Jazz Festival today


KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival, now in its 10th year, has started.

The event taking place at the covered tennis court of the Sutera Harbour Marina & Country Club started yesterday with performances by local artistes the likes of Jonathan Tse, Appy Tots, WVC, Gee Mojina & Elixir, Momain Blues, RTM Combo as well as the top three winners from the recent “Bakat Interact” comprising of students from SM Stella Maris, SM La Salle and SM St Francis Convent.

Today, patrons at the festival will see USA Motown legend Bobby Taylor, the incredible Juzzie Smith, Juwita Suwito, Shanghai Jazz Reprise, 4B’s, Jazz Crash, and Alton Wong. Bobby will also be introducing two of his students during the show today.

The festival will start with the first act at 7pm and ends at about 11pm. Tables and chairs are provided at the venue but availability is based on first come first serve basis.

Food and beverage coupons will be sold at the venue at RM20 and RM50 per book. Apart from food, the festival merchandise and music CDs of the performing artistes will also be sold.

The event is jointly organised by Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu together with Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah.

The KK Jazz Festival would still feature 50 per cent of local talents, said well-known musician Roger Wang during a press conference held ahead of the show yesterday.

“We are proud that it has made a difference in the music scene in KK,” he said.

He added that KK Jazz Festival had become a platform for local musicians to showcase their craft and talents.

“We are proud that we are building something,” said Roger.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Redirecting: Climbing Mount Kinabalu


Mount Kinabalu is not the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, I always imagined it to be. Puncak Jaya, Indonesia topped it by around 700m, and then there’s the matter of prominence, which I don’t quite grasp its concept.

Mount Kinabalu (Mt. KK) is the highest point of Malaysia, and according to Wikipedia, the Malay Archipelago, or Nusantara. It’s the home of a very diversified range of flora and fauna, and despite suffering from its first earthquake in June 2015, it still stands unapologetically proud and high, looking over ranges or hills and mountains, uncountable valleys, and the whole of Kota Kinabalu.

Can’t really pinpoint when I decided to make this trip to KK, but I have (and never had) a single tinge of regret. The climb was difficult, straining, tiring, challenging, but oh it was worth every single drop of sweat and every groan and struggle.

This isn’t a guide, no to-bring-list, no detailed description of what you’ll have to do, no instructions of how to book your tour. This is merely my thoughts being recalled and put into words, and a little of what you might expect, if you’re a girl in her 20’s, fairly fit, and decided to challenge Mt KK with good company.

I swear the mountain looks different at different points of view and different angles, and boy, it is majestic.

We actually opted for a night stay in Kinabalu Pine Resort before the climb, and there’s nothing negative to complain about this place, and it has a spectacular view of Kundasang, so why not. And the entrance to the mountain is inside Kinabalu Heritage Park, which is a 5 minute drive from the resort.

Although pumped with adrenaline already, I slept well that night.

The climb started with a downhill flight of stairs. Which… means more uphill-steps coming up. But honestly, the view and the path changes after every turning, and they’re all so mesmerizing.

As we climbed, the steps eventually became steeper and higher, to the point where every lunge was painful on my thighs. Trees around us became progressively shorter, the leaves pointier, and the air became thinner, as our breathing got louder and faster.

The last 2km, out of 6, were the toughest. Although fueled by our packed lunch, every step felt heavy and draining, and all I wanted was to sit down, with a cup of tea/coffee, and put my legs up, for a long, long time. A comfy chair was all I could dream of at that point.

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Redirecting: Climbing Mount Kinabalu
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Double-Barrelled Travel: Things to do in Borneo – The perfect one week itinerary


We just returned from a blissful week in Borneo. We weren’t really sure what we expect travelling to the Malaysian part of the region – we didn’t really have many expectations at all – but we were delighted in the things to do in Borneo.

Our days were filled with exploring the rich culture of the rural people, island hopping from one white sandy beach to another, searching for orang-utans in the green and tropical jungle, and trekking up mountains.

Keeping in mind I’m now nearly four months pregnant, we tried not to overdo it and went to bed early most nights, having packed in quite a lot during the days. We also took a week off work and really enjoyed spending some quality time with each other.

Things to do in Borneo

A did map out a rough plan of things to do before we left, and we loosely followed it throughout our week long stay. It turned out to be a really good itinerary, so I thought I’d share our details on things to do in Borneo with those of you wanting to explore this picturesque and idyllic part of south east Asia for yourself.


Day one – Sarawak Cultural Village

We flew into Kuching in the late afternoon, so the rest of the day was simply spent checking in and then relaxing by our hotel’s pool. The next morning, we got up reasonably early and  caught a taxi out to the Sarawak Cultural Village.

We spent roughly two hours exploring the village, where the people from the Sarawak region live when they’re not entertaining tourists. Each hut represented a different area of the region, and explained how those particular people went about their daily lives. Some of the tribes are nomadic, dismantling their huts and moving every few months, whereas others stayed put.

Many of these villagers still hunt with blow guns and practise traditional handicrafts like wood carving. Music and dancing is prevalent too, and at the end of our exploration we watching a 45-minute stage show where performers from different regions showed off their area’s traditional music and dance.

Nearby beach

Although the restaurant on site looked appealing, we crossed the road from the centre and ate at the inexpensive food court next to the beach. We then snuck into the resort’s pool area next door and had a swim before heading back on the shuttle bus.
What you need to know:

Where: Sarawak Cultural Village is about 35km from Kuching, and takes roughly 50 minutes to get there. It’s in a beautiful setting, at the bottom of mountain foothills and close to a beach.

When to go: The village is open from 9am – 5pm every day, with the performances on twice daily, one at 11:30am and the second at 4pm.

Cost: MYR60 per person (AUS$20) which is quite expensive for things to do in Borneo, in my opinion, although I think the show makes it worthwhile.

How to get there: Our taxi cost MYR65 (AUS$22) to get there, and we bargained the driver down a little although we probably could’ve got it cheaper. The shuttle bus on the way back was MYR12 (AUS$4) per person one way and drops you and picks you up from the Grand Margherita Hotel in central Kuching.


Day two – Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, longhouses and hot springs

The next day we decided to hire a car to get around. It frustrated us that there’s no metered taxis in Kuching, and Uber wasn’t available either. Because car rental was cheap, we opted to go for that instead (more details below).

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

We drove out to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre for our first stop, keen to see orang-utans in the wild. The centre didn’t disappoint. Although the area is a wildlife park, so the apes are free to wander as they please, the keepers feed them twice a day, so they know to come to certain spots at certain times for food.

Because it wasn’t fruit season, meaning there wasn’t that much fruit growing on the trees in the wild, there were quite a few orang-utans about. We saw six altogether, including a mum and her baby, and a huge, 18-year-old male.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Miri may soon be the Gold Coast of Sarawak


MIRI: There is a plan to turn the coastline from Tanjong Lobang to Kuala Sibuti into the `Gold Coast of Sarawak’.

Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin, after chairing a Sarawak Tourism Coordination Committee meeting here yesterday, said the 35km initiative would be similar or could rival Australia’s Gold Coast.

“We want to promote our sea as diving, fishing, and sport fishing havens. The area is rich with untouched corals and marine life,” said Lee.

“Apart from beaches, we plan to sell our cultural and natural wonders, too.”

On the state’s national parks, he said they were for adventure tourists, where they could opt to fly or use boats or travel through timber tracks to get to their destinations.

Lee said the state’s interior, particularly Baram, would not be left out from the state’s tourism radar as they possessed natural and cultural wonders.

These areas could be promoted as a Tourism Triangle.

“Under this Tourism Triangle would be Loagan Bunut, Mulu National Parks, Niah and Lambir National Parks. Other areas with potential under this Tourism Triangle are Bario, Usun Apau, Long San and Long Bangak, in the interior of Baram.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Miri may soon be the Gold Coast of Sarawak
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sanctuaries 'last resort' to save sharks in Sabah


KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government’s move to declare three marine parks as shark sanctuaries is the ‘last resort’ to prevent further decline of the species.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the government and authorities could not do much to curb shark hunting and finning in Sabah unless and until the Fisheries Act was amended.

“Unless laws are enforced and the state is given more powers to deal with the issue, we will only see unnecessary killing of sharks.

“We can do the next best thing to protect our sharks, by declaring marine parks as shark sanctuaries to make it illegal to catch sharks in these parks,” he told reporters at his ministry’s Raya open house.

The function held on Tuesday night at the Sabah National Culture and Arts Department grounds was attended by the ministry’s workforce and their families.

Yesterday, pictures showing dead sharks with their fins severed believed to be taken from Mabul Island off Semporna were found circulating on the internet.

“The photos we see [on the internet] are what we have been opposing and talking about in the last few years...shark hunting and finning simply cannot continue.

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Sarawak Government considering to let private sector run Rainforest World Music Festival


KUCHING: The state government plans to let the private sector organise the Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) starting next year.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the matter is currently under study to determine whether the future organisation of RWMF would be a joint venture between Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) and the private sector or purely an event organised by the private sector.

“We are looking into it. We will study first. This year, it is still (organised by) STB. We are looking into whether STB will join venture or to let it (RWMF) be 100 per cent run by the private sector and the government withdraws,” he told reporters after chairing the first State Tourism Task Force meeting here yesterday.

Abang Johari, who is also deputy chief minister, is in favour of the private sector organising the event.

“They can drive it and they got innovation. They know best (what the revellers want). We want the private sector to run it but they can make use of this brand.”

He explained that the approach taken by him in letting the private sector organise RWMF was similar to the approach taken by the state government in letting the private sector manage the national parks.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

BlameitonMyWildHeartBlog: Borneo – Malayan Sun Bears


As difficult as it has been to keep the absolute longing to begin work right away at bay, the first week in “quarantine” was a wonderful opportunity to explore our surroundings and learn more about the fascinating creatures that make the island of Borneo their home, Malayan sun bears being one of them.

At Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, where I spent several weeks volunteering a couple of years ago, they had a few rescued sun bears. I never got to work with them though, as I was busy with the elephants.

Fortunately, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre is just next door to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre where I am currently working, thus very easy access for us volunteers.

During my first week here in Sepilok I spent some time wandering around BSBCC, and during our quarantine week us orangutan vollies were lucky enough to meet BSBCC’s CEO & founder, Siew Te Wong.

There is not a great deal of research out there about the Malayan sun bear on Borneo, and Wong (a wildlife biologist) has done an amazing deal of field research to get more information about these animals published.

In his extensive travels Wong has been witness to poorly-treated captive animals (e.g. in sub-standard zoos and in private homes), and in 2008 he set up BSBCC.

BSBCC is a refuge for sun bears in need, as well as a rehabilitation centre with the ultimate goal of assisting the sun bear’s population numbers through animal rehabilitation & release and community education.

un bears (Helarctos malayanus) are found in regions of Southeast Asia, including on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra.

These animals are the smallest species of the bear family, and possess a dark coat with an individually-unique pale horseshoe patch on the front of their chests which is said to resemble the rising sun.

Sun bears have developed amazing ways to exist in their ecological niche. For example, they have very long tongues (between 20-25cm!) for snacking on hard-to-reach honey, and are fantastic climbers.

Initially I had no idea of just how high they can climb – trees are where they source a lot of their food from, and where they spend long periods of time resting in nests that they crudely build from branches and leaves heaped together.

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No more the hunted in Land of the Hornbills


KUCHING: The state will play host to the 7th International Hornbill Conference, which will be held from May 16-18 next year at Riverside Majestic Hotel here.

According to Deputy State Secretary Datu Ose Murang, Sarawak made a bid for the conference when it was held in Manila in 2013 and was successful with the bid.

“We are expecting around 300 participants, both international and Malaysians. The success of the conference will help in our state’s hornbill conservation efforts.

“With the theme of ‘Hornbills: Fly Free Fly High’, we hope that someday we can increase the population of hornbills in the state. When they are conserved and not hunted, they can fly anywhere. It can be seen as representing the dreams of Sarawakians in achieving their visions,” he told a press conference yesterday.

The 7th International Hornbill Conference is jointly organised by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and Sarawak Convention Bureau.The conference is to discuss current status, future trends and challenges pertaining to the conservation of hornbills.

In the build-up to the international conference, a national conference was held for the first time last year in Miri.

Ose pointed out that hornbills have a significant role in Sarawak, being the Land of the Hornbills.

“It is an iconic part of our Culture, Adventure and Nature (CAN) tourism. As the Land of the Hornbills, we must make effort to conserve as well as to ensure their population grows. We hope that one day, we can easily see hornbills flying even in Kuching, and when tourists come, we can direct them to a place to see the hornbills,” he said.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: No more the hunted in Land of the Hornbills
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