May 23, 2013, by Graham Kendall
MEME/Sime Darby Launch
Professor Peter Mitchell and I were lucky enough to be invited to the official launch of the MEME (Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants) project, which has been funded by Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD).
The launch event was held at the Belum Rainfoest Resort. It is around this area that a lot of the work of the MEME team takes place.
The launch took place over two days, with the official launch taking place on Monday 21st May. On the 22nd May there was a field trip to the a salt lick. It is here that the MEME carry out a lot of their research, specifically analysing elephant dung (in a field labartory; as well as taking samples away for later analysis), and it is also where the camera traps are located.
It was very interresting to see these traps and when one of the SD cards was changed, it was possible to see some of the video that had been captured, which included a group of 10 elephants wandering by (and also taking an interest in the camera; many are moved or destroyed by the elephants, purley out of curiosity).
A specific highlight was to be able to witness an elephant that was in the process of being reloacted being fitted with a GPS collar and then released back into the wild. It is only through witnessing it that you realise what a large (there wewre about 50 people there) and professional operation this is.
Launch events are directed at the media and this event atracted Astro and The Star newspaper (amongst others). Hopefully, the event will atract significant coverage of the event, and the project in general. It is good to see that this is heppening already (see here, which include a very informative video)
I took some photographs during the launch event, which you can see here. I should say that these are just a small selection of the ones that I could haven taken, but hopefully it will give you some idea of the event, and its location.
On a personal note, as I said in my short speech at the launch, I’d like to express my thinks to the entire MEME team for organising such a well run event, for looking after us so well and for actually doing the research that hopefull will lead to less human elephant conflict as well as give us more understanding about these important animals.
Also, on behlf on UNMC, I’d like to reinforce our heartfelt thanks to YSD for providing the funding that enables this important project to happen.
Header image (left to right: Dr Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz (Lead Researcher of MEME); Professor Peter Mitchell (Dean of the Faculty of Science, UNMC); Professor Graham Kendall (Vice-Provost – Research and Knowledge Transfer, UNMC); Caroline Christine Russell (Governing Council Member, YSD); Yatela Zainal Adidin (CEO of Yayasan Sime Darby)