Online blitz for wildlife
Published on: Monday, June 05, 2017
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By Kan Yaw Chong
World Environment Day today (June 5) will mark the first of a 10-week splash of a new online series, dubbed "Borneo Jungle Diaries", focusing on Sabah's incredible wildlife and the corps of local and international scientists working to care for and protect them.

The online wildlife blitz will air one episode per week until August 7.

"We will play the video online which can go into every smartphone on the planet the whole day, seven days a week," said Simon Christopher, founder and CEO of Scubazoo, which has teamed up with Danau Girang Field Centre as its scientific partners and Yayasan Sime Darby which finances the production of the maiden 10 episodes.

"The idea is essentially to do a big focus on Sabah's wildlife, share it using the social media with a big ambition – bring Borneo wildlife to each and every living room on the planet and get the world talking about it.

"And this is an all-day show and part of many series we hope to do two-three month blogs going on for the next three years," he added, in a press conference here, Sunday.

The first episode, which is an introduction to Kinabatangan and the work of Danau Girang Field Centre, will be released on Scubazoo TV (scubazoo.tv) and DGFC facebook page (www.-facebook.com/Danau-Girang-Field-Centre-147476775319983/) today (Monday) at 4pm, local time, to coincide with World Environment Day.

Invoking the synergistic idea that "the whole is great than the sum of its parts" but understanding the whole (jungle for example) depends on understanding all the parts, Simon said:

"The great thing about DGFC is that there are many scientists who are studying each of these levels in the food chain and put tags on these animals to understand those food chains and what is going on in the jungle.

"So we start with DGFC because it is absolutely incredible, it's ground-breaking and an exciting thing for us in Scubazoo as story tellers because once they discover something, it answers a question but poses another three questions, so the stories are evolving and recurrent," Simon explained.

"The bottom line is essentially trying to look at the wildlife surviving in this forever fragmenting forest we have left here," Simon said.

The first episode features DGFC Director Dr Benoit Goossens taking photo journalist Aaron Bertie for a river cruise to see the elephants with this definitive tip to the world: "Kinabatangan is definitely the place in Borneo to see wildlife and my favourite is the elephant!"

According to Benoit, his debut will be followed by one episode every Monday until August 7 and the episodes will highlight the following species: pangolins, reticulated pythons, otters, insects, monitor lizards, slow lories and tarsiers, crocodiles, civets and elephants.

"Borneo Jungle Diaries investigates life behind-the-scenes at the field centre," Benoit noted.

American PhD student Meghan Harris, who will be featured in the Civet cat episode, said she noticed "the current situation in environmental awareness and education is exploding in Sabah but not so in my country."

"So I feel like I can make a contributing difference here because people are so willing to listen and hopefully, at the end of it, we are all going to see a better Sabah.

"I absolutely love, love working here. I love the culture, it is amazing. But for me, it's the question that we can answer and the good that we can do," she said.

Meanwhile, Terrance Lim, a Director of Scubazoo and General Manager of Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi, Kinabatangan, said since the Borneo Jungle Diaries episodes are going to reach every smartphone on earth, tour operators should see it as "very important to drive more tourists into destination Kinabatangan which we really need at the moment as tourist arrivals have dropped a lot recently."

"In our case, we have been operating in Kinabatangan for 18 to 19 years now and we did not know much about what's going on in DGFC.

"Many of us, including tourists going to Kinabatangan, do not really appreciate what DGFC actually has been doing and these episodes will now showcase that and hopefully help move tourists into the area," he said.

Given Malay subtitles, the episodes will be widely understood throughout the Malay speaking world, Lim noted.

"But I must highlight there'll be a competition associated with each episode," he said.

"There'll be five questions about the animals, or the person working on them or what's going on in the episode.

The answers collected will go into a poll, the winner will get a stay at DGFC, see the wildlife and meet the scientists at work.

"And then we will work with Sabah Tourism Board and also the President of the Sandakan Municipal Council, and all the tour operators in Kinabatangan on a Grand Prize for the winner to come and stay in Kinabatangan to experience and enjoy its wildness and rich wildlife," Lim said.

Borneo Jungle Diaries is produced by SZtv and follows environmental photojournalist, Aaron 'Bertie' Gekoski as he investigates life behind-the-scenes at the Danau Girang Field Centre.

All episodes have Bahasa Malaysia subtitles and be released on SZtv's website, YouTube and Facebook.

What's more, viewers are encouraged to take part in the competition that is being held;

All you have to do is answer five questions from the episode correctly each week to win a 4-day / 3-night stay the Danau Girang Field Centre. There will also be a grand prize at the end of the 10-series Borneo Jungle Diaries for those who get all questions correct across all quizzes.

For more information, check out Borneo Jungle Diaries on SZtv.



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