‘Ecoteer has helped me a lot with my gibbon research, especially with fieldwork and networking opportunities.’ – Iza Adrina, Environmental Biology and Animal Behaviour PhD Student at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).
Iza worked with Ecoteer in 2017 to study primate behaviour. Her study focus was on gibbon research in Merapoh and Temenggor-Belum. She is currently continuing to work on her PhD. Let’s hear more about her project with Ecoteer and how it provided her with the necessary skills and experience needed for her research.
Before your PhD, what were you doing?
My goal is to become a researcher and wildlife conservationist specialising in primate studies. Therefore, I completed my bachelor’s degree, followed by a masters and an internship in data collection. After that I volunteered in wildlife management to learn more about gibbon handling and husbandry. From then on I started to love gibbons and other primates. I believe they play a vital role in the rainforest.
What did your work in Merapoh and Belum involve?
Researching and sharing knowledge of wildlife and primates with the public. An online primate survey I organised showed that most Malaysian couldn’t even recognise the different primate species. Therefore, I made it my aim to highlight the importance of wildlife to locals. Ignorance is often the root of many conservation issues, so this is a main priority of mine.
How did you come across Ecoteer?
I shared one of my study sites with Ecoteer, and so my supervisor at USM suggested a collaboration. Ecoteer were directly involved in my gibbon surveys at Temenggor-Belum forest reserve. Furthermore, they helped other research students and myself access this area, and Merapoh, to start our preliminary studies. Coming across Ecoteer has been of great benefit to me. They helped me a lot with my studies, and provided the necessary facilities to do so.
Is there a particular special memory from the experience?
Starting the PhD research, a huge moment for me was watching the gibbons brachiating. Hearing the gibbons call in the wild for the first time is something I think I will remember for a very long time.
What skills did you gain?
Studying with USM has given me an invaluable opportunity to learn about primates, and Ecoteer has supported me along the way. I’ve developed my presentation and writing abilities including how to effectively write a paper for my studies. I’ve also nurtured my statistical analysis methods and finally learnt basic tree climbing, which I love!
The most important skills I’ve gained by working with Ecoteer are my English and general communication. Ecoteer excels as a platform to share educational knowledge with the public, as they work closely with the local people. Furthermore, working with other like-minded international individuals helped me build contacts and make friends. I truly believe that collaborating with Ecoteer is a great opportunity for anyone wishing to become a real conservationist.
Is there any advice you would give to others starting their career?
Firstly, know where your passion lies and only do something that makes you happy. If you’re interested in research, then I think the most important skill is communication. It will help you network and share your knowledge with the public accurately, to inspire them to learn more about conservation.
If you would like to collaborate with Ecoteer please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively if you’d like to learn more about research in the field, check out our Merapoh Rainforest Station volunteer project.