Official sponsors for CAT programme for 2016 are 21st Century Tiger (Zoological Society of London), European Outdoor Conservation Association, Prince Bernhard Nature Fund, The Body Shop West Malaysia, and the Wildlife Reserves Singapore Group.
For a complete list of donors for MYCAT programmes, refer to MYCAT Tracks and Annual Reports HERE.
As habitat protection at the project site is important to the overall Taman Negara tiger population, we are seeking continued financial support from international and local donor agencies, corporate, institutions, etc to further expand the program towards recovery of the tiger population in this priority tiger conservation area.
In 2011, 29 volunteers signed up for CAT even without any active promotion. In 2012, 125 volunteers joined CAT trips, marking a 331% increase. A total of 280 volunteers participated in CAT in 2013, out of which 24 are repeat CAT Walkers from previous years and in 2014, 233 volunteers participated which includes 34 repeaters. Some of the CAT Walk volunteers have participated in MYCAT Outreach programme conducted in the project site, as well as other poaching or trading hotspots in Peninsular Malaysia.
CAT Walks are popular with non-Malaysians too, with volunteers coming from 32 countries outside Malaysia, who range from expatriates working in Malaysia to backpackers to volunteer tourists or ‘voluntourists’.
Maimunah, usually known as Muna, is the Corporate Communications Director of a listed media conglomerate. Once or twice a month, she leaves her cat and husband and drives her 4x4 to the Corridor to lead CAT Walks. When she is in the city all she can think about is the jungle. In her words: “I just keep thinking that every week, if I don’t do it, there could be poachers out there. Every time we go into the forest, we make a difference. What we do, it really counts."
Helen is from the state of Sabah in East Malaysia. As a child she followed her policeman father into the Borneo forests, often spending the night there. Later, her thirst for adventure led her to qualify as a Combat Medic in the Royal Malay Regiment of the Malaysian Army, one of very few women to do so. She is full of ethno-botanical knowledge and is very comfortable in the forest, so she is a reassuring influence on the young university students she often leads. After five years as a soldier, she joined the Education Ministry’s videography department and works on educational videos. She is also a canoe instructor and amateur caver.
Harrison is our youngest trip leader but with a lot of jungle experience, having started in his teens on expeditions to Borneo and helping as a junior nature guide with the Malaysian Nature Society. He has twice been our Volunteer of the Year for participating in the greatest number of CAT Walks. He is our kit “guru” and keeps abreast of the latest innovations. Harrison is thinking of following his grandfather’s footsteps and joining the British Army after completing his degree at Edinburgh. His previous experience in Borneo and his recent volunteering stint with MYCAT on tracking, surveillance and reconnaissance should stand him in good stead if he becomes a soldier.
Arif is one of our earliest trip leaders. Renowned for his Rasta hats and sunglasses, he is always cheerful and friendly no matter what is happening, which makes him an invaluable asset on longer trips. More than anyone else he has engaged with the local community and he married a local girl, who herself was a conservationist working with the Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme tiger team. Their wedding was a social occasion bringing conservationists and the local community together in a village setting. While traditional poaching by some villagers may still continue at a lower level, a mutual understanding that our disagreement over poaching is not personal will help to continue to avoid confrontation in future.
Lucas is MYCAT’s newest trip leader and hails from Seremban. Since a young age he has been interested in the outdoors. In his job in the automotive parts industry, he gets to visit every state and this has been an opportunity to explore the forests, mountains and valleys of Malaysia. This experience has enabled him to compare how each state has managed its natural resources, whether wisely or foolishly, the latter being the norm. It has also influenced his views on important conservation issues in Malaysia. His knowledge of forest plants and animals makes him an ideal leader for CAT Walks. He considers the Sungai Yu Wildlife Corridor unique because despite the human disturbance, wildlife continue to use it as a crossing point between Taman Negara and the Main Range. It shows that this area is important for wildlife. It is good that his favourite animals include the tapir and hornbill as these are common in the corridor. Lucas’ most memorable trip was a Border Walk – a tapir came to visit the camp and nudged some of the campers while they were in their hammocks. He is now hoping to see a binturong.