Meet the speakers

Alexander John, The ‘Bird Boy’

Talks : 20th & 22nd October                  

“My Birding Journey”

Alexander John is a fifteen year old birding enthusiast from Kota Kinabalu. His passion for the sport-hobby began in 2013 while on a family trip to Kathmandu, Nepal. At this year’s Borneo Bird Festival he will share his love for birding in the hopes of encouraging birding enthusiasts his age, to develop an interest in getting to know the birds of Sabah and perhaps elsewhere.

Dr. Diana Ramirez

Acting Manager/ Veterinarian, Wildlife Rescue Unit.

Talks:   20th & 21st October

“Wildlife Rescue Unit”

The Wildlife Rescue Unit Rescuing Birds, Uncertain future  The Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) was created in 2010 in response to an urgent need to address human-wildlife conflicts and conservation issues in Sabah. The WRU is the brainchild of the then Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, Dr. Datuk Laurentius Ambu, and the Assistant Director, wildlife veterinarian Dr. Sen Nathan. Presently, the unit is fully sponsored by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). Currently the unit counts with 23 staff, the WRU has the responsibility to assist the wildlife department in: human wildlife conflict issues, animal rescue and translocations, enforcement, public awareness and other duties.

Since 2010 to date WRU has rescued a total of 43 birds; some of this were from rescue operations, confiscated from illegal collections, sellers or undercover operations. Few others were rescued following reports received from the public, unfortunately not all these birds can make their way back to the wild, due to changes in their behavior and diet while they were kept as pets and some permanent injures that affects their normal living. Each case will be evaluated before SWD/WRU decide whether these animals can be released back to the wild and survive.

Stephen Shunk,
Owner & Lead Guide of Paradise Birding, Oregon USA

Steve was raised with a deep love and respect for nature, and went on to study Meteorology and Environmental Studies in college. Stephen began birding in 1989 in San Jose,California and started teaching birding classes in 1992. He founded the Paradise Birding tour company in 1997 soon after moving to Oregon. He has led birding tours to birding hotspots throughout western North America as well as internationally.


20th October “An American Birder Visits Sabah”

22nd October      “New World Woodpeckers & Hummingbirds”

Woodpeckers have fascinated Steve for over two decades. His woodpecker research began in 1997 on the east slope of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains and quickly expanded across the continent. Steve has coordinated bird surveys for various agencies and organizations in Oregon and California, including research on the Black-backed woodpecker with the Institute for Bird Populations.

Steve resides in Bend,Oregon – which happens to have the highest concentration of nesting woodpeckers – 11 species – to be found in North America. Steve founded the Woodpecker Wonderland Festival in Camp Sherman, Oregon to celebrate these many local woodpeckers. The festival has now been adopted by the East Cascades Audobon Society.

Ravinder Kaur,
PhD Student & Winner of the  2017 Future Conservationist Award by UK-based Conservation Leadership Programme together with Rosli Ramli and Marc Ancrenaz.


20th & 21st October          “Hornbill Conservation in Borneo”

Five artificial nest boxes for hornbills were erected along the river in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Reserve, Malaysia. The nest boxes were courtesy of a French non-government organization (i.e HUTAN) and two zoos from UK and France (i.e. Beauval Zoo and Chester Zoo). A comparative study between natural cavities and artificial nest boxes was conducted from September 2014 to February 2015 to measure humidity and temperature. These two parameters are deciding factors for nest boxes occupancy. Data loggers (RHT 10 USB EXTECH) were used to measure temperature and humidity inside and outside of the natural cavities (n=4) and artificial nest boxes (n=4). For nest boxes, internal temperature ranged from 21.8 to 35.0°C while internal humidity ranged from 40.1 to 99.4%. On contrary, internal temperature for natural cavity remained low (from 22.5 to 27.5°C) while its internal humidity ranged from 95.9 to 100%. Camera traps recorded several species of hornbills such as Rhinoceros (Buceros rhinoceros), Wrinkled (Rhabdotorrhinus corrugatus), Bushy crested (Anorrhinus galeritus), and Oriental Pied (Anthracoceros albirostris convexus) that visited the nest boxes. Rhinoceros hornbill had attempted to seal the entrance of the artificial nest boxes while Oriental Pied hornbill was the only species that occupied the cylindrical nest box. These responses indicate that nest boxes could play an important role in providing alternative nesting sites for hornbills.

Gloria Ganang,
Environmental Education Executive at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre.

Talks: 21st & 22nd October

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) is founded by sun bear biologist Siew Te Wong in 2008 with the partnership from Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Sabah Forestry Department and LEAP. Located adjacent to the Sepilok Forest Reserve, Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo.  The centre has engaging a holistic approach that incorporate animal welfare, education, research, rehabilitation, and ecotourism to address the needs faced by the sun bears in Sabah. The centre has the capacity to house 40 rescued sun bears. After major facilities of the centre have been constructed at the end of 2013, the centre was open to the public in early 2017 and conducted a series of education programs at the same time promote ecotourism activities. To date, BSBCC has received and cared for 55 rescued sun bears that were rescued by SWD. More than 200,000 visitors have been visited BSBCC and more than 70,000 school students have been reached through the education programs. Two rehabilitated adult female sun bears have been released back into the wild at Tabin Wildlife Reserve, although the outcome of the rehabilitation remains unknown. In view of the biggest threat to the sun bears has changed from habitat lost to poaching, BSBCC  created four more objectives this year – ecotourism, community conservation, anti-poaching and captive breeding into the existing objectives. BSBCC will use focus on these eight objectives as a road map to conserve sun bears in Sabah for the next ten years. 

Dr. Miyabi Nakabayashi,
Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for Post-doctoral Scientists (PhD)

Talk : 21st October

“Figs and the Helmeted Hornbill”

We look at the relationship between fig fruits and animals. To spread offspring, strangler figs face many difficulties compared to other plants, and fig-eating animals control their fates when they defecate (do a poo). I will talk about how animals’ scat relate to strangler figs by taking binturongs, gibbons and hornbills as examples.

“A fruiting fig tree”, if you are keen bird watcher, you may think that this is a good chance to see birds. For birds, they may think this is a good chanc to fill their stomachs, and for the fruiting tree, it may think this a good chance to spread offspring. It is very well-known that figs are one of the most important foods for animals in Asian tropical rainforest. However, there are few people watching animals from a viewpoint of strangler figs.

Hj. Rahimatsah Amat
Chief Executive Officer & Founder , Sabah Environmental Trust

Talk : 22nd October     

“Danum Valley Scientific Expedition”

DVCA is located 4050’N – 50 00’N and 1170 35’E – 1170 45’E in the South-eastern part of Sabah, having a core conservation area of 43,800 ha. Gazetted as a Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve in 1995 by the Sabah State Government, DVCA is managed by Yayasan Sabah with patronage by Danum Valley Management Committee (DVMC), for purposes of research, education, training and nature recreation.

The presentation is based on the Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA) findings from the Wildlife and Resource Survey 2016 that was conducted between 15th to 29thAugust, 2016. There were 132 participants from 18 agencies and divided into 11 groups, distributed within and around DVCA.The survey also covered two additional study sites that have not been surveyed before, i.e. Mt. Nicola and Mt. Tribulation.

From the survey, a total of 228 species of birds were recorded, much lower than the 317 species recorded by Hazebroek et al. (2012). With 228 species from 50 families listed under IUCN Redlist, 64 species are listed under WCE.Of these, twelve species are classified as totally threatened (CR=Critically Endangered, EN=Endangered, VU=Vulnerable) under the Redlist, where in this survey all listed species falls under VU. Among listed species are Large-billed Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis caerulatus), Great Slaty Woodpecker (Mulleripicus pulverulentus), Bulwer’s Pheasant (Lophura bulweri), and Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus). There were 14 species identified as endemic to Borneo, including the Bornean Crestless Fireback (Lophura pyronota), Bornean Crested Fireback (Lophura ignita), Bornean Bristlehead (Pityriasis gymnocephala), Blue-headed Pitta (Pitta baudii) and Black-headed Pitta (Pitta ussheri). In addition, all the eight species of Bornean Hornbills, six species of Pitta, Bornean Ground-Cuckoo (Carpococcyx radiatus), Bornean Wren-Babbler (Ptilocichla leucogrammica) and Dusky Munia (Lonchura fuscans) were recorded, making DVCA a premier site for birdwatching.

Melissa Mathews

Project Manager for The Sabah Society Tambun Project

Talk : 21st October

“Project Tambun” – The Sabah Society with our partners Camps Borneo and the Earl of Cranbrooke established Project Tambun at Pulau Mantanani Besar since 2015. Project Tambun is a community awareness and conservation project of the Philippine Megapode Megapodius cumingii .The need for this Project arose due to the concerns that these birds would go locally extinct due to poaching. The Project Tambun have focused on scientific research, community engagement and raising awareness on these unique Tambun birds to this date. As part of the talk, we will showcase beautiful pictures of the Tambun birds, our activities as well as an exciting video.  


Serene Chng
Programme Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia

Talks:  21st October

The Last Song? Cage bird trade in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is home to over 850 avian species, and keeping birds as pets is desirable for their song, their beauty, cultural beliefs, and a multitude of reasons. Sadly, this high demand and volume for domestic and international bird trade, involving hundreds of species and thousands of individual birds, has resulted in many sought-after species are facing dramatic declines. This presentation will give an overview of the scale of the trade across Southeast Asia and more specifically in Borneo. It will also highlight some of the species most affected by the trapping and trade, and share conservation efforts being taken to mitigate the threat to our precious birds.

Tajuk Filem / Title: The Messenger

Jenis / Type: Documentary
Tahun / Year: 2015
Negara Asal / Country: Canada / France
Tempoh Tayangan / Duration: 90 min
Bahasa / Sarikata: English with BM subtitles
Pengarah Filem/ Penerbit / Director / Producer: Su Rynard (Director)

Show Time:       21st October @ 8.00pm


Su Rynard’s wide-ranging and contemplative documentary THE MESSENGER explores our deep-seated connection to birds and warns that the uncertain fate of songbirds might mirror our own. Moving from the northern reaches of the Boreal Forest to the base of Mount Ararat in Turkey to the streets of New York, THE MESSENGER brings us face-to-face with a remarkable variety of human-made perils that have devastated thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks and many other airborne music-makers. On one level, THE MESSENGER is an engaging, visually stunning, emotional journey, one that mixes its elegiac message with hopeful notes and unique glances into the influence of songbirds on our own expressions of the soul. On another level, THE MESSENGER is the artful story about the mass depletion of songbirds on multiple continents, and about those who are working to turn the tide. In ancient times humans looked to the flight and songs of birds to protect the future. Today once again, birds have something to tell us.

*The documentary screening is in
collaboration with Borneo
Eco Film Festival and Borneo Bird Festival

Dr. Arthur Chung
Entomologist at Sabah Forestry Department.

Talk : 22nd October

“World’s Tallest Tropical tree in the Heart of Borneo”

Discovered in 2016 via Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) by Prof. Gregory Asner  & his team from Standford University, USA, in collaboration with Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), the 94.1m tree is located within the Danum Valley Conservation Area in Sabah. Assigned by the Chief Conservator of Forests, the researchers from SFD identified the tree species and verified the height captured via CAO by manually measuring the tree by a tree climber in early 2017. The species was determined to be Shoreafaguetianaor locally known as “serayaKuningSiput” because of its snail-like exudations. The speaker will highlight some interesting features about the tree and its surrounding area.

David Hogan Jr,

David Hogan Jr is a travel writer, blogger, photographer and social media strategist for Malaysia Asia, a multiple award winning travel platform. His articles focuses on nature, bird watching, scuba diving, adventure and also general travel and tourism for Malaysia, Southeast Asia and the World. David has also contributed articles to international publications like CNN Travel, Lonely Planet, Yahoo Travel and many other publications around the world, and is one of the pioneer and top genuine travel bloggers in Malaysia.

When he is not traveling, he works with local Tourism Boards in Malaysia and Indonesia, and also with other international travel companies by providing quality tourism content. David is also a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) travel writer, who specializes in search engine content for first page result ranking. He operates in Kuala Lumpur under his digital travel and tourism company under MyAsia Services, a registered company in Malaysia.

Talks :

20th October       “Birding Experiences in Papua New Guinea and around Malaysia”

  • First timers experience in Raja Ampat, West Papua
  • Searching for the Bird of Paradise (Cendrawasih)
  • Spotting the rare Biak Paradise Kingfisher
  • Bird Watching Guides at Raja Ampat
  • Taman Negara Birding
  • Hornbill Valley or Enggang Valley

22nd October      “ Birding and the Sosial Media”

  • Social Media birding in 2017 – What are you doing wrong
  • Instagram Birds – Hashtags to find them
  • Sharing your bird photos, information
  • Selling Bird Photos online – EyeEm, iStock, Shutterstock, Dreamstime and others
  • Start a Bird Watching Blog – WordPress, Wix, Blogger

Shavez Cheema

1StopBorneo Wildlife

 Talks : 21st & 22nd October

 ‘Wildlife of Borneo, Troubles faced by them and how youths can save them’

Shavez Cheema will be talking about some of the different fauna found on Borneo. He will highlight the relationship of some of the fauna with the natural environment and show case the beauty of the ecosystem. He will then showcase some of the major issues facing wildlife on Borneo in general. He will finally end the session on how youths and the general public can help animals on Borneo & highlight some success stories by young students on saving animals.

Karen Ochavo

Vice-president – Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.

 Talk: 22nd October

Philippine Bird Festivals

In 2005, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) organized the Philippine Bird Festival (PBF) with the support of local government, the Department of Tourism and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Since then, the PBF has been held eleven times and hosted by different cities and provinces around the country, with the most recent one hosted by the Negros Island Region in 2016. Through the PBF, WBCP is able to share the joys of birding to more Filipinos by showcasing the avian biodiversity in the local communities. The event enables WBCP to reach out to a wider audience in its advocacy for the conservation of birds and their habitats. Ties to international birding organizations are strengthened through their participation in the PBF. WBCP hopes that with the success the PBF, more local communities will appreciate the importance of wild birds and be motivated to take action in protecting their habitats.

Kelvin BH Kueh

Lecturer/Researcher at the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ITBC),

Deputy Director of the EcoCampus Management Centre, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Talk:   20th October

Crocker Range Park (CRP) is the largest protected terrestrial park in Sabah with a coverage of approximately 1,399.19 km2 (75km in length and 15km in width), and it spans 8 districts in the West Coast Division, as well as Interior Division. The park has been gazetted under the Parks Enactment (1984), mainly to preserve and protect the watersheds of 12 main rivers, and the habitats of Rafflesia, besides of other flora and fauna too. It is being managed by Sabah Parks. The park is also a UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Reserve that aims to uphold sustainable development in tandem with the objectives to promote research and conservation. The attainment of sustainable development depends on successful creation and implementation of Environmental Education (EE) programmes to inculcate changes in behaviours, attitudes, knowledge, awareness, skills, and participation. Over time, EE gradually evolves into Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) where equity, quality of life, and environmental quality are achieved. Manis-manis ‘Rooftop of Borneo’ Resort, via its university-industry research collaboration with the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation, ITBC (Universiti Malaysia Sabah), has timely tapped into this advancement since the end of 2016. Scientific outputs from field-based biodiversity, natural history, and ecological studies craftily translated into educational and enjoyable EE/ESD programmes localized to the surroundings at CRP, have created the EduNature Camp at the resort at Ulu Kimanis. The EduNature Camp combines both indoor and outdoor, physical and intellectual, as well as short-term and long-term outcome driven activities in order to induce value and attitude changes within the campers, especially young children and teenagers. Indeed, it makes CRP and Manis-manis ‘Rooftop of Borneo’ Resort a travel destination very unique in our endeavours to achieve sustainability in our common future.


Gwenda Gui Lee Chu & Ali Suffri Mohd Jaffar

Members of Sandakan Borneo Bird Club Sabah

Talk : 20th October

Birding Destinations in Sabah



Alim Biun

Research Officer (Ornithological Research) at Sabah Parks

Talk : 22nd October

The Endemic Birds As a Typical Tourism Product And Its Conservation Status in Sabah

Melvin Amandus

Senior Wildlife Officer/ Investigation Officer at Sabah Wildlife Department 

Talk : 22nd October

Wildlife Enforcements and Wildlife Education Awareness

Shia Kang Ping @ Amanda

Talk : 21st October

Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme