Case Study Three Staff Go Wild
Mission: to help our partners in Sabah help set up and run a programme to teach local children about their environment and wildlife
Name: Maggie Esson
Job Title: Education Programmes Manager Chester Zoo
Country: Borneo, Malaysia
The Hutan Environmental Awareness programme (HEAP) has been operational for several years and gradually growing as one of the four units that make up the Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme – which Chester Zoo supports through our Realm of the Red Ape Programme. The other three units are: Orang-utan Research Unit, Elephant Conservation Unit and Honorary Wildlife Wardens. The Chester Zoo Education Division involvement started with two of their educators Ahbam bin Abulani (Bam) and Johari bin Bakri (Johari) receiving Keeper for a Day funding for two weeks of training with us here. Bam now heads up HEAP.
The purpose of Maggie’s trip was to run a staff workshop on future planning for the HEAP programme and to provide training in monitoring and evaluation of education activities. The workshop ran over three days and was held at the HQ of the project which is in the village of Sukau, on the edge of the orang-utan research sites and beside the very beautiful Kinabatangan River. The forest scenery was superb with common sightings of proboscis monkeys and long-tailed macaques.
After the workshop, Maggie did some forest trekking with both the Orang-utan Research Team and the Elephant Conservation Unit and was lucky enough to see orang-utans and elephants. The forests contain abundant leeches and leech socks are essential. One of the aims of the project is to involve the community as much as possible and there is a local home-industry in sewing leech socks for visiting tourists and people like Maggie. Maggie stayed with a village family as part of the ‘Home stay’ scheme. This is another way in which the local community can benefit from outside interest in protecting orang-utans and the forest for the future. There were times when she longed for hot water and a shower but ‘Home stay’ is a great way to experience the community. Maggie had her hosts playing environmental education games in the evenings even though they couldn’t speak English and they had a lot of fun.