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  SOS Rhino : In the News : News From The Field : Monthly Field Report for August 2005
August 2005
From the desk of Dr. Edwin Bosi

Last month (July) was hectic with the visit of Dr. Jey and Dr. Nan. We have so many meetings and we covered many grounds in preparing SOS Rhino and SOS Rhino (Borneo) to meet the future challenges ahead. On the 28th July was the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Sabah Branch’s annual general meeting. Once again, I was elected as one of the committee members. MNS has many branches throughout Malaysia and is a very strong and respectable NGO.

On the 2nd August, I attended the Tabin Wildlife Management Committee meeting at the Forestry Department’s Headquarters in Sandakan. The committee is headed by the Director of Forestry Department. The other members are the wildlife department, environmental conservation department, University Malaysia Sabah, Tabin Wildlife Sdn. Bhd., Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Finance and the State Attorney. SOS Rhino was invited to brief the committee on our progress.

I did a power-point presentation and also handed out hard copies of my progress report. Basically, I informed the committee about SOS Rhino and SOS Rhino (Borneo), the organizational structure and the activities that we are doing and undertaking. I mentioned about the three Rhino Protection Units (RPUs), our base camps and our rhino surveys. I have also mentioned about our patrolling work together with Wildlife Department staffs in Tabin and also, with WWF-Sabah. I have also shown pictures of poaching activities and illegal felling of trees inside Tabin reserve. Finally I thank the Forestry department for handing to us their base camp at Dagat, and to the Wildlife department for allowing us to take over the TrekForce building at Tabin. I praised both the Forestry and Wildlife departments for taking prompt actions as soon as they receive our reports on poaching and illegal felling. The committee was very impressed with our work, and encouraged us to continue to act as such.

I met up with Ms Wong of Intra Travels about providing our assistance to Tabin Wildlife Sdn. Bhd (TWSB). Intra Travel is a subsidiary of Sabah Air which has a major share in TWSB. They are the commercial arms of the government. SOS Rhino will be putting up a rhino exhibition booth and provide information brochures for visitors at TWSB’s jungle resort.

On the 9th, I left for Lahad Datu and went over to Tabin to meet up with Dominic Buandi, the Manager for TWSB. We have more or less agreed on how SOS Rhino can assist to promote Tabin. The rhino exhibition booth will be prepared and brochures will be made available for their visitors. Suzali, Marikus and I were given an opportunity to stay in their jungle cabins for a night.

Tabin Wildlife Sdn. Bhd., jungle cabins. A pied hornbill came to perch on the cabin’s verandah at sunrise.

Prior to that, I went over to SOS Rhino base camp to meet up with all the boys. I discussed with the three team leaders on present and future plan of actions. We have four new field assistants on board and they are now undergoing field training. One of them is Hayro’s brother. As you may remember, Hayro was our Supervisor and died in a car accident in early June 2005.

While in Lahad Datu, I went over to Sabahmas Plantation to catch up with Mr. Khoo Eng Min, the Managing Director of PPB Oil Palm. I also met up with the Manager and his officers. The gathering was happening because their Chairman was on a 2-day visit to the plantation. I had the opportunity to brief them on SOS Rhino’s activities of late. There were poaching problems in their conservation area but is now under control. The quick response from the wildlife department on this matter is appreciated.

The two RPUs continued with the line transects at KM2 and KM22. The TrekForce team has concluded their work in KM12 having covered a distance of about 4 KM. Our RPU team leader Frederic is responsible to ensure that the line transect at KM12 is done accordingly. Another team leader Suzali is responsible for line transect at KM22. In the southeast of the reserve, our RPU led by Amit was doing the line transect at KM52, and also started to construct a base camp at Awi’s plantation.

I left Sabah for Galway, Ireland to attend the conference on biodiversity and health or Cohab2005 on 22nd August. The conference was attended by at least 51 countries and I am happy with the outcome. I met some very important people during the conference. I will be writing a separate story about Cohab2005 for the website. We were entertained to an Irish songs and dance. The weather was not too bad but somewhat unpredictable. We had some marvelous sunshine followed quickly by intermittent drizzles.

Dr. Edwin with Coner Kretsch, Organising Chairman of Cohab 2005

Dr. Edwin with Dr. Billy Karesh of WCS and one of the key speakers.

On 26th August, I followed Patricia and Prof. Chris Shaw to Belfast. Chris is a professor of Pharmacy, Queens University Belfast. He was one of the key speakers of Cohab 2005 touching on medical plants and animals. His lecture was very enlightening and provided credence to our effort in conserving our tropical rainforest. Patricia is a researcher and assisted in the Cohab 2005.

Prof. Chris Shaw & Patricia.

It was a beautiful drive from the south to the north of Ireland. For a while I saw the landscape lined with stones and many cows. Indeed, this part of the country the boundary is marked with pebble stones. Later, I was informed that we were now in the UK part of Ireland!

In Belfast I met up with Christina Wong a friend I have not seen for two decades. She is a successful practitioner of complementary health and medicine involving acupuncture, homeopathy, osteopathy, herbal and nutrition. She is an avid supporter of the Sumatran rhino of Borneo and has generously sponsored two rhinos at Sepilok. She has arranged for me to meet up with her friends Des and Thomas over golf and a splendid lunch at her golf club house. Christina is the secretary of the club. Des Bingham is in the PR line and he will be writing something about the SOS Rhino and our work in Borneo for the Irish newspapers.

Christina Wong and Des Bingham – supporters of the Sumatran rhino of Borneo in Belfast, Ireland

I moved on to Zurich on 30th August. I was received at the airport by Nicole and Pascale. Both of them were in Sabah visiting the orangutans at Sepilok and also, spent few days with me tracking rhino in Tabin. Since then, Nicole who is in the education department of the Zoo has strongly argued for SOS Rhino’s case for funding. Zurich zoo is one of the prominent supporters of SOS Rhino project, and helped secured funding from the European zoos. Nicole has also arranged for me to visit the Zoo and met up with the Zoo’s important people.

Picture shows Nicole and Pascale during their rhino tracking in Tabin with Dr. Edwin Bosi, Suzali and Marikus.

On 31st, I was given a tour of Zurich Zoo’s special project in the island of Madagascar. Roger Graf, the head of the education department has kindly spent time to brief me on the Madagascar program.

Roger showing the tropical setting of Madagascar and showing the project site in Madagascar while Nicole looked on.

The zoo has built a huge doom housing the tropical environment of Madagascar. The project cost about US48 million. The average number of visitors to this site is about 1.6 million per year.

The Madagascar project doom where Padi or rice are being grown.

Later, I met up with the Director of the zoo, Dr. Alex Rubel and then gave a short presentation to Dr. Robert Zingg (General Curator), Dr. Samuel Furrer (Curator of Herpetology & Aquarium and Dr. Martin Bauert (Curator of Nature and Botany). What a day to spend Malaysia’s Independence Day in Zurich Zoo!

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