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Aquarium Educator Visits Conservation Projects in Borneo

Aquarium Educator Visits Conservation Projects in Borneo
Archer (far left) and the other students in her class met orangutan researchers affiliated with Hutan, a community nonprofit.

Conservation | Education

November 19, 2013

Aquarium Educator Alicia Archer traveled to the island of Borneo in Malaysia to take part in a primate conservation class as part of her graduate program in zoology through the University of Miami. The class visited the Danau Girang Field Centre in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, located in one of the last remaining untouched forests in the jungle. Participants learned field methods by following researchers studying such local bird and animal species as orangutans, hornbills, estuary crocodiles tarsiers, sun bears, and river fish. The variety of studies ongoing at the center represented the biodiversity of the region, Archer says. Many of these species face problems related to habitat fragmentation due to deforestation.

Archer and her classmates learned about orangutan conservation in the town of Sukau. | Amy Urling
The class also visited the town of Sukau further down the Kinabatangan River, where the participants stayed with locals and met with members of a community-based organization called Hutan. Hutan is a non-profit organization that has partnered with the Saba Wildlife Department and runs the Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Program. Hutan’s projects include training local people to monitor and protect the local orangutans and Borneo pygmy elephants, a volunteer warden program, and a reforestation project that is buying land formerly used to cultivate oil palms and restoring those areas with native jungle. Through her participation, Archer says she was able to learn about sustainable community-based programs that rehabilitate the environment and protect native wildlife.

Many Aquarium staff members have traveled to different parts of the world to learn about conservation activities, marine and terrestrial plants and animals, participate in research, or assist scientists with projects. This allows our staff to make connections with the larger scientific community and to bring up-to-date science and conservation knowledge back to the institution to share with colleagues and Aquarium visitors.