News from Kinabatangan: Berjaya Elahan reports SEARCH NEWS

Ranger Berjaya searching for wildlife in the Deramakot Forest Reserve.

Ranger Berjaya Elahan is on the conservation frontline in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, where World Land Trust (WLT) has been funding land purchase to create wildlife corridors since 2008.

Berjaya is employed by Hutan, one of WLT’s conservation partners, and since 2011 his work has been funded by WLT’s Keeper of the Wild programme.

The Kinabatangan floodplain where Berjaya works is home to a diverse range of species including Bornean Orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus), Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis lavatus) and Bornean Pygmy Elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis). However, the biodiversity of the area is extremely vulnerable because of the fragmentation of the forest due to the steady spread of palm oil plantations.

In 2014 WLT raised one million pounds to save the Keruak Corridor in Malaysian Borneo’s Lower Kinabatangan floodplain. The corridor connects patches of rainforest that had previously been logged. Securing the properties has ensured that the corridor remains protected and as a result Orang-utans and other endangered species are now free to roam the forest of the north bank of the Kinabatangan River.

Keeper of the Wild

Berjaya is an Honorary Wildlife Warden in Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), and his work covers many different activities. Patrolling the reserve day and night is fundamental and in 2014 Berjaya and his team of fellow wardens spent a total of 236 days in the reserve checking for illegal activities such as poaching and logging.

Although the work is hard, and can be risky, Berjaya is undaunted: “It makes me feel proud to know that I am doing my part to keep the forests safe for future generations,” he said.

When he is not on patrol, Berjaya is involved in education programmes, community engagement and liaison with government agencies.

Berjaya and the SWD warden team works with the Hutan Environmental Awareness Programme (HEAP) and he visits schools across Sabah to deliver important messages about conservation. “Through this programme we want to make sure that children today grow up being aware of Sabah’s natural wonders, and help create the next generation of conservationists,” he explained.

In addition to sharing his knowledge with children, Berjaya helps to provide training for Sabah Government staff working in the Forestry Department. The workshops focus on sustainable forest management and the importance of protecting species of value to conservation.

Film making

Rarely seen without a camera in his hands, Berjaya is a keen photographer and video maker. In 2014 he joined the Suara training programme which brings together professional Malaysian film makers with community members from around Sabah.

Through these workshops, members of Sabah’s communities can learn technical skills to help them share their stories. Berjaya told us: “Films are another important way that I can spread the message of protecting our forests and the environment, and reach out to people in Sabah and around the world.”

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More information

Berjaya’s work in the Lower Kinabatangan flood plain is supported by the Keepers of the Wild programme.

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