21 future diplomats charmed by orangutans at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre

Nor Emel (centre in headscarf) and SFC officers in a group photo with the group from IDFR during a visit to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 4: Twenty one officers from the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) gained new perspectives of the Borneon orangutans and the conservation efforts undertaken to protect the flora and fauna in Sarawak after a visit to the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre here today.

Programme director Ariffin Gadait Jr said they would share the wonderful experience and knowledge gained during their one-week study trip here with people they would be meeting in their future work opportunities.

“We were really lucky this morning as we managed to see seven to eight orangutans. For most of our officers from Peninsular Malaysia, it is their first time to set foot on the soil of Borneo and see orangutans with their own eyes,” he disclosed.

He pointed out that the visit was an eye-opener and encouraging as they got to learn and better understand the orangutans and its conservation, including the statistics, which they could only gather through reading news and other online sources normally.

“Nowadays, we read and hear news about reforestation, including due to oil palm (plantation development) and others. So, with this experience and information acquired in Sarawak, we can spread the positivities when we meet our colleagues and Malaysians as well as other diplomats overseas.

“We want to tell them that Malaysia and Sarawak, especially, are practising good sustainable forest management and they (foreign countries) need not be worried about this problem,” he said.

During the visit, the group also launched a promotional video ‘Adopt Semenggoh’s Borneo Orangutan’, which will be uploaded to social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“This corporate social responsibility (CSR) and outreach programme are part of our course, and Sarawak was selected for this year,” he explained.

The officers from IDRF, under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were undergoing six months’ mandatory training for their diploma before being eligible to be sent abroad to serve in Malaysian Embassies and High Commissions in 85 countries.

The group has been here since March 31 and will be leaving tomorrow (April 5).

During their one-week study trip here, they completed two other CSR programmes — in Telok Melano, where they had engagements with locals to share about the ministry, its roles and functions, and at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas)’s Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, where they shared insights relating to international relations.

The group also paid a courtesy call on the Lundu District Office as well as the Federal Secretary Office here.

They will be paying a courtesy call on the State Secretary’s Office to learn more about federal-state relationship tomorrow.

Ariffin emphasised that their jobs were not only concentrated on international relations but also to be well-informed about the administration and governance in the state down to the district level.

“Overall, we have achieved our objectives, especially to promote the Ministry and our roles and functions. We want the public to know that we care and work for all Malaysians,” he added.

Semenggoh Wildlife Centre park manager Nor Emel Farnida Jaddil commended the IDRF group’s efforts as it provided a good platform to promote the good works of Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) in orangutan conservation.

“We saw a long term benefit in this collaboration, and we hope more organisations and agencies will emulate this,” she said.

Sarawak’s main orangutan rehabilitation centre is home to 31 wild and semi-wild orangutans, with Seduku being the oldest at 48 years of age and a mother of three — Analisa (23), Sadamiah (17) and Ganya (11).

“Our most important effort is to encourage the local community to do their part in orangutan conservation, especially in providing a safe environment for the orangutans who may go roaming outside the park, but we are happy to have the local community’s support,” she highlighted.

On the challenges, Nor Emel said more modern assets and equipment were needed to better monitor the orangutans in the dense forests in Sarawak.

“We need to find better and appropriate technology because our forest is very thick. If we use satellite imaging, it cannot penetrate underground while using thermal in our forests, we will find not only orangutans but other wildlife like wild boars, gibbons, snakes, monkeys and others,” she explained.

Nor Emel also shared that Semenggoh Wildlife Centre had received a good number of domestic and international visitors so far this year. — DayakDaily