KUCHING – More than 200 participated in the third annual Ride for the Wild (R4TW) 2017, including virtual cyclists from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia joining the conservation cause for orang-utans, sharks and rays.
Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak campus’ Multi-purpose Hall was bustling with people on Saturday morning when Ride for the Wild (R4TW) 2017 kicked off. The annual cycling event was organized by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Malaysia Program in partnership with Swinburne and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) in tandem with the International Day for Biological Diversity.
The cyclists who rode on the 56km route took a breather at the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre where they enjoyed displays of the state’s vast biological diversity. Both 56 km and 23 km cyclists enjoyed a break at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, an event partner, where artwork by members of the Sarawak Artists’ Society and school students from SK Nanga Delok were displayed. The school children’s artwork were products of the ‘Using Art and English for Conservation’ workshop organized by WCS Malaysia at the school, were also displayed on panels made of 100% recyclable materials sponsored by Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC). The 23km cyclists were also treated to another break at event partner Hotel Hilton where more pieces of art about Sarawak’s flora and fauna were displayed and refreshments served.
Ninety-two enthusiastic Swinburne students from clubs as diverse as the Cycling, Debaters’, Green and Running clubs as well as those from the University’s Student Leadership and Volunteer program played an important role in making this event a success. They took on the roles ranging from emcee to cycling and stationary marshals ensuring the safety of the participants, as well as Zumba dancers and henna painting artists.
Speaking to an audience of participants, volunteers and members of the public, WCS Malaysia Program Director, Dr Melvin Gumal urged the audience to make a conscious effort to avoid using or partaking of products made from the body parts of our endangered and protected wildlife. In his presentation, he stressed the importance of supporting orang-utan and shark conservation in our daily lives, and to spread awareness to friends and family about their crucial role in the balance of the eco-system.
Aside from the main cycling event, organizers put together a dance party in collaboration with Zumba instructors from Angelus Fitness Gym and Yogini Republic Studio. Volunteers and members of the public alike joined in the 90-minute workout session.
Participants and members of the public left messages on the event’s pledge banner, supporting the conservation of orang-utans and sharks. Some messages included “Say no to fins!”, “I love our orang-utans” and “Orang-utans and sharks 4EVA!”
Another popular side event on the day was the face-painting and henna painting. Volunteers put their creative abilities to full use when a non-stop stream of interested individuals lined up to get their wildlife-themed, temporary body art done.
Staying true to the green theme of the event, the Swinburne Green Club organized a recycling drive. Club members collected paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum cans during the drive. A token of appreciation in the form of a small plant was given to those who droped off a minimum of 2 kg of recyclable items.
Apart from the 56 km and 23 km route, the ride this year includes the Virtual Ride category to accommodate those who were unable to join the ride in Kuching, but still wish to support conservation. They can ride on exercise bikes or actual bicycles and need only email their track log to prove they have completed a certain distance. The track log will be posted on the WCS Malaysia Facebook page and participants will receive an e-certificate of participation. While participation in the Virtual Ride is free-of-charge, it is hoped that virtual riders will contribute to the conservation cause. The Virtual Ride is open until the 28 of May 2017.
The ride and the conservation of orang-utans and sharks were supported by the Sarawak Society for the Deaf, who participated in the ride. Ride for the Wild 2017 is also supported by Sarawak Energy, Hilton Kuching, Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, Permai Rainforest Resort, Save Orangutan Project, Borneo Adventure, Ulu Ai Conservancy, i-Print, Gui Ging Garden and Landscaping, Eunoia IT Solutions, John’s Pie and Indah House Kuching.
Those who would like to contribute to the conservation of orang-utans and sharks may visit the WCS Malaysia website at https://programs.wcs.org/malaysia/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WCS.Malaysia/ to find out how to contribute and to find out more about the organization and upcoming events.