Protecting Orangutans and their habitat is a global responsibility

Rasa Ria Nature Interpretation Centre (NIC) – Sabah

Introduction

The Orangutan is a highly endangered species of great ape whose existence is threatened by wanton habitat destruction through logging and forest fires.

They are 97% human like.

The prime reason for logging the natural habitat is to enable the planting of Palm oil plantations, which oil product is used in many everyday items such as some noodles and chocolate. This action causes many Orangutans to be displaced, orphaned and hunters unfortunately also target this magnificent and very intelligent animal.

Under the watchful eye of the Sabah Wildlife Department, the young orphaned Orangutans are taken to the Rasa Ria Nature reserve and are undergoing the first stage of rehabilitation.

Over a period of 3-5 years they are being prepared for the second stage of rehabilitation at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok, Sandakan. This centre is the biggest of it’s kind in the world.

Once the two phases of rehabilitation are completed, the orangutans will then be carefully guided back to their natural habitats in the wild.

Rasa Ria encourages visits to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre where large adult orangutans, both male and female, are frequently sighted. They hope the visits to Rasa Ria and Sepilok will raise appreciation towards Sabah’s immense efforts in protecting these wonderful animals.

Touring the Nature Interpretation Centre

Upon arrival at the NIC, we are seated and the famous documentary, Man of the Forest, part of the Orangutan UK Appeal, is shown. The 20min doco gives viewers a detailed insight into the challenges faced by the orangutan and the great work carried out by Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, which is giving the Orangutan a ray of hope.

Following a tour of the NIC facility we then commence our 1-hour trek deep into the jungle to catch a glimpse of some of the reserves latest arrivals.

As we climb steeply up a narrow track we see a raised timber deck, a feeding station, connected by a series of ropes crossing the jungle canopy.

As young orangutans do not yet have the ability to source their own food, rangers provide regular meals to the young orangutans via the feed stations.

While we are standing on the deck, more than five baby orangutans come swinging through the jungle, across the canopy above our heads, they are fast, funny and do look like old men.

We are lucky they feel safe enough to come very close to us, the ranger advises that in the reserve we do not touch the orangutans, just being close is a special feeling. They stay for about 30 mins and then slowly swing away, disappearing into he jungle.

Continuing along the path we trek for another 30-45 mins traversing along a 40mt high canopy walkway seeking out other local flora and fauna. We came across Monkey’s, turtles and many types of butterflies.

Rasa Ria and the local rangers’ fantastic efforts in educating visitors and protecting and rescuing displaced orangutans is world known, their commitment, passion and continuing efforts are giving the orangutans of Borneo a ray of hope.

In Australia and across the world many organizations are also assisting the orangutan’s plight.

Studio Green provides sponsorship support to Katie, Wulan, Cinta and Ten Ten through the Rasa Ria NIC.

Images are available via here

Please see the below links for ways you can add your support.

http://www.zoo.org.au/Borneo

http://www.zoo.org.au/PalmOil

http://www.orangutan-appeal.org.uk/

 

Inaugural Green Build Asia 2012 – Kuala Lumpur

Inaugural Green Build Asia 2012

On February 14 2012 Geoff Gourley attended the Inaugural Green Build Asia conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as part of his 2012 Malaysian eco educational tour.

Held in conjunction with International Construction Week at KLCC, opposite the famous Petronas Towers, Green Build Asia was one of South East Asia’s largest green building conferences; well attend by more than 10,000 various corporations, governments and individuals from across the Asia pacific region it was the place to catch up on green building, innovation, new products and services.

Opened by YAB Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia, a focus of this year’s event was on technology, systems, materials and suppliers and strongly featured low carbon cities and sustainable and green buildings, with over 250 exhibitors covering more than 6,000sqm.

I was lucky enough to spend some time chatting to a representative from Malaysia Ministry of Works (JKR) and Ahmad Zaki Resources, one of KL’s largest builders, who are currently undertaking the KKR2 tower, targeting a LEED Platinum environmental rating, KKR2 (RM309 Million) will house Malaysia Ministry of Works and be one of Malaysia’s greenest buildings setting an exmplar for other future buildings.

KKR2 is strategically located along Jalan Sultan Salahuddin, KL and is a 37-storey office tower standing 210mt tall and is the first phase of a complex development.

I was also privileged to see the building site up close; construction is approximately 90% complete and well on target for its scheduled May 2012 completion date.

The remainder of the conference presented a large exhibition of various green building products and suppliers, renewable energy, water and waste solutions and a number of guest speakers presented their views on the sector.

Putrajaya – a Low Carbon Green City was a unique initiative of the Malaysian government and had a huge stand, complete with extensive models, toward the front of the main conference hall.

All in all it was a good opportunity to see what another country, less developed in green building, was undertaking and it was very encouraging to hear about a number of carbon neutral residential and commercial developments are in planning and a couple actually under construction.

For further information see links below and for images see flickr link on home page.

www.ppj.gov.my

www.pjh.com.my

www.gdparchitects.com/projects/current/kkr-tower

http://www.greenbuildasia.org/

Experiencing Gayana Eco Resort – Sabah

Borneo and Sabah

Borneo is South East Asia’s biggest island and is collectively made up of the two East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. The island of Palau and Gaya is located just off Sabah’s Capital, Kota Kinabalu, about a 2.5-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Gaya Island is the largest of the five islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park and is famous for its ancient, dense Dipterocarp forest which offers a rare glimpse into a primordial jungle

Gayana Eco Resort

Departing from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal on the edge of Kota Kinabalu, we take a tender to the Gayana Eco resort, about a 25 minute trip sees us arrive to a small jetty at the base of a stunning jungle backdrop.

Stepping onto the jetty you are greeted with hundreds of tropical fish swimming beneath you in the crystal clear aqua waters, to the right a number of Kingfish that have been rescued from old nets swim freely in a protected rehabilitation area.

The Eco resort itself sits right against the jungle and rocky outcrops of National Park of Tunku Abdul Rahman, a number of over water villas house guests and have been designed to enhance the soothing sounds of the ocean below and the jungle beside, while capturing the enduring vistas of Mt Kinabalu on the distant horizon.

One of the main features at Gayana is the Marine Ecology Research Centre or (MERC). The centre is a must visit and showcases the product of their research and conservation program efforts. Passionately propagating endangered Giant Clams and restoring vital natural coral reefs; a place where visitors can actively participate in restoring vibrant life back to once damaged ocean floors.

Striking the perfect balance of forward thinking ecology and visitor comfort Gayana is a place your body and mind will enjoy.

The rest of day one was taken up with an immersion in the MERC facility. The guide directed visitors to the, quite modern, theatrette complete with advanced audiovisuals and tiered seating for approximately 80.

A 20 min presentation soon followed which gave a detailed insight in to MERC and the great work that has been under way for a number of years. After the presentation visitors stroll along the over-water jetty to an educational aquarium, housed in more than 20 tanks visitors get up, close and personal with the local fish species, Giant Clams and our guide facilitates an informative discussion about the centre, the habitat and how climate change and human impact has placed this area at risk.

Next to the aquarium is a more ‘touch and feel’ area, stroking star fish, baby clams, sea cucumbers, coral and the like gives visitors an appreciation for how precious and vulnerable the marine habitat is. MERC is all about conservation through education, which is why it hosts many school groups and visitors from across Malaysia, Brunei, and Borneo and across the globe.

Adjacent to MERC’s main facility an in-ocean protected area and home to numbers of rescued marine life. A green and olive turtle were rescued overnight, found stressed and tangled in a disused Fishermans nets, bought to MERC by a local, the centre assesses and nurtures the turtles back to health before releasing back into the marine reserve. Along side the turtles are a number of kingfish, which had been also rescued by locals and are being cared for by the centre.

In addition to the conservation of fish, mammals and Giant Clams the centre is also developing and restoring coral reefs through initiatives like replanting of broken and damaged coral and the establishment of two solar powered bio rock reefs. Placing large steel structures in areas of the habitat where reefs have been lost forms a Bio rock reef; by directing a very low voltage current through the steel it encourages and attracts rapid coral growth.

One of the best ways to explore the marine reserve is via kayak and snorkeling or free diving which visitors are encouraged to undertake.

Very early morning on day two at Gayana gave rise to the sounds of monkeys clambering down to the rocky ocean edge at low tide to fossick for breakfast, more than 30 were busy feasting on crabs, baby clams anything they could find, or steal from each other.

Later that day as I walked along the jetty, just below a monitor lizard appeared from the jungle, at more than 1.5 meters long, it slowly slide into the water every so smoothly swimming around, glad it did not find me enticing. Looking above, a few rare Hornbills flew in formation, a fantastic sight to see.

As the sun sets on my last day here I was lucky enough to see a mass bait ball swimming very close to the jetty, thousands of young fish darting left, right, up and down, they clearly like being in a protected marine reserve also.

To see more images from the trip please see flickr link on the home page.

Informative sites

www.gayana-eco-resort.com

www.sabahtourism.com

Green building and eco educational trip to Malaysia 2012

Green building and eco educational trip to Malaysia 2012

Geoff will be undertaking a 10 day Green building and Eco Educational trip to Malaysia in mid February 2012.

The start of the trip includes  touring the latest green buildings of Kuala Lumpur including attendance at Green Build Asia 2012

Green Build Asia 2012

Asia’s No.1 Event on Sustainable Building, Design & Construction

The world of sustainable building, design and construction will converge in Kuala Lumpur for Green Build Asia 2012 Exhibition & Conference. Held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC).

The event is expected to be attended by over 10,000 delegates and trade buyers from across the region to get updated on the latest in property, building design, materials, construction equipment and interiors. Hosted by the Construction Industry Development Board, Malaysia, the event is Asia’s No.1 Business-to-Business Event devoted to Green Building.

Days 3-10 will be spent visiting the Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Gayana Eco resort and the UNESCO listed Kinabalu Park.

Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre

The Sepilok Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre was set up in 1964 to rehabilitate orphaned baby orang-utan. Set in the lush 4,300-hectare Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve.

The Centre under the administration of the Wildlife Department of Sabah attracts tourists and researchers alike, giving them the opportunity to watch the orang-utan up close in their natural habitat.

A boardwalk leads to a viewing area and feeding platform where the apes are fed milk and bananas twice a day by rangers. Feeding time also attracts long-tailed macaques to the area.

While orang-utan rehabilitation is still the primary goal at Sepilok, it also focuses on public education on conservation, research and assistance on other endangered species such as the rhinoceros.

Gayana Eco resort

Gayana Eco Resort rests serenely at the edges of a lush jungle forest on a coral reef island off the coast of Borneo. 52 over water, tropical villas are architecturally designed to enhance the soothing sounds of the surf below while capturing the enduring vistas of Mt. Kinabalu on the distant horizon.

At its heart, the resort is about protecting and re-generating our precious Marine Ecology, and the only such property to feature its own, on-site Marine Ecology Research Centre passionately propagating endangered Giant Clams and restoring natural coral reefs; where guests actively participate in restoring vibrant life back to once damaged ocean floors.

Kinabalu Park

Kinabalu Park was gazetted as the first State Park in Sabah in 1964 and declared Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 2000 for its outstanding biological attributes.

Also the Centre of Plant Diversity for South East Asia, the Park boasts more than 5,000 vascular plant species, an estimated 1,000 orchid species, 621 fern species, nine Nepenthes species, 29 Rhododendron species and two Rafflesia species.

The Park has no shortage of fauna as well, being home to some 90 lowland mammal species, 22 montane mammal species, 21 bat species, 326 bird species, 62 toad and frog species and a large population of the 850 butterfly species that occur in Sabah.

Out of the 29 bird species that are endemic to Borneo, at least 17 are confined to the mountains, notably Mount Kinabalu. These include subspecies of the Red breasted Tree-partridge, Crimson-headed Wood-partridge and Mountain Blackbird.

Such diversity is truly the makings of a naturalists’ paradise!