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  SOS Rhino : In the News : News From The Field : Monthly Field Report for November 2005
November 2005

November 1st was Deepavali holiday in Malaysia. A multiracial country, Indians represent about 15% of the Malaysian population. Deepavali means the festival of lights. On 3rd was the beginning of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, to mark the end of the month-long Muslim fasting month or Ramadan. For three days, Muslims in Malaysia open their home to friends and relatives. There are plenty to eat especially cookies, prepared by woman-folks weeks before the fasting month ends.

I made a special trip to Dagat on 3rd November to join in the predominantly Muslims community there to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri. SOS Rhino (Borneo) field team members and I had the opportunity to visit several homes. Prayers were said before food was offered. The next day, the boys cut the grass around the base camp and made tables for the camp. SOS Rhino (Borneo) will be renovating this guardhouse as requested by the owner, the Forestry Department of Sabah.

On the 5th, a 9-aside soccer tournament was organized by the Dagat villagers. This was the second year running and involved three villages namely Dagat, Parit and Tidung. SOS Rhino (Borneo) is automatically invited to participate. A challenge trophy has been sponsored by SOS Rhino (Borneo) and also all the trophies for the winner, 1st and 2nd runner up. Special tokens were also given to the referees. Six teams participated in this tournament. For the second time, a team from Tidung became the champion. Rain and the muddy field made the games less competitive but never poor in excitement. This was a time when all the villagers in Dagat, Tidung and Parit congregated, and also an opportunity for staffs of SOS Rhino (Borneo) to mingle around. After the game, the village chief hosted a lunch for the SOS Rhino (Borneo) team.

Pix shows Dr. Edwin Bosi presenting the challenge trophy to the Manager of the winning team from Tidung village.

Pix shows SOS Rhino (Borneo) soccer team

From the 6th to 7th November, I was at Tanjung Utik, another base camp of SOS Rhino (Borneo). During this time, I was able to have fruitful discussion with the field teams. The many stray loose logs that were retrieved earlier, the team managed to re-construct the jetty. The Segama river is experiencing flooding as more rain is poured on the upper part of the river. It is time to retrieve the loose logs.

Pix shows RPU members re-constructing the jetty at Tanjung Utik

Pix shows RPU members retrieving loose logs from the flooded Segama river

A volunteer from Australia, Marc Bowden was with us and experience the culture and hospitality of the people in Dagat. He has completed his time with the RPU led by JJ and will move on to the other RPU led by Amit. The last of his 3 month volunteerism will be with the RPU led by Suzali.

Pix shows Marc Bowden (squatting center) with the RPU

On the 10th I met up with Fiffy Saikim, a Masters student at University Malaysia Sabah. She is doing a Masters in eco-tourism at Tabin, and sponsored by SOS Rhino. Her study will focus on how tourism can help protect Tabin reserve. As she progresses with her study, a special report will be written about her. On the 29th Dr. Taranjit Kaur, who studied the saltwater crocodile at the lower Segama river gave a presentation of her thesis to the wildlife department officials. She is the first recipient of the Annelisa Memorial Fund. Dr. Tara is expected to continue her research as she hopes she will be able to attract funding.

We welcome Fadzilawati or Lynn, a graduate from University Malaysia Sarawak who joined SOS Rhino (Borneo) as Field Coordinator as of 11th November. After spending a week in Kota Kinabalu she is off to Tabin to take up her posting. From Sarawak, she will be taking charge of the RPUs. More story about Lynn in the next report.

On the 12th I participated in a workshop on environmental impact assessment (EIA) participation in Sabah organized by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) held at the Promenade Hotel in Kota Kinabalu.

On 17th – 18th Dr. Nan and I attended the 10th Sabah Inter-Agency Tropical Ecosystem seminar (SITE) at Beverly Hotel in Kota Kinabalu. The main theme of this government-backed seminar is on management of protected area. Dr. Nan gave a paper on multi-species conservation and to drum up support for the multi-species approach to conservation seminar in November 2006, to be organized by SOS Rhino in collaboration with the wildlife department and Conservation Breeding Specialist Group (CBSG) IUCN. I have also presented a paper on our experience in community outreach program or COP at Tabin reserve.

On 22nd – 24th I went and attended the 3rd Roundtable Sustainable Oil Palm seminar held at the Grand Copthrone Riverview Hotel in Singapore. I have presented a paper on 22nd jointly authored with Mr. Simon Siburat of PPB Oil Palm Berhad entitled “SOS Rhino (Borneo) and Sabahmas Plantation – Partners in Conservation”. My trip to Singapore was sponsored by PPB Oil Palm Berhad.

On 27th I was at Sepilok to check on the rhinos. I was accompanied by Dr. Christina Wong from Belfast, a strong supporter of SOS Rhino (Borneo). Dr. Nan Schaffer is now in the process of preparing a comprehensive report on the reproductive integrity of the two rhinos. The report will be presented to the Director of Wildlife Department Sabah, and we hope that it will help him make decision on the future of this pair of captive rhinos in Borneo.

Pix shows Dr. Christina Wong with the rhino at Sepilok

Our work in Sepilok ends in November 2005. We hope to continue to assist the wildlife department in its ex situ conservation program. Dr. Petra Kretzschmar, our Field Scientist has returned to Germany and we thank her for her contribution.

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