KUCHING – Over 2,200 runners and volunteers from 24 countries worldwide have run for the wild. More than 500 gathered at Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak Campus on 24th November for the official launch of the 5th annual Run for the Wild organized to support the conservation of orang-utans, sharks and rays. The Run for the Wild is an annual run organised by the Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia Program (WCS Malaysia) in partnership with Swinburne Sarawak and Sarawak Biodiversity Centre.
The annual event is supported by Sarawak Energy, Hilton Kuching, Borneo Convention Centre Kuching, Orangutan Project, Borneo Adventure, iPrint, Neudimenxion, Permai Rainforest Resort, John’s Pie, Raw Kitchen and Sarawak Society for the Deaf, to name a few. More than 70 volunteers from the Swinburne Sarawak Green Club and other students with an environmental conscience took part to do their part to spread awareness of the need to conserve orang-utans, sharks and rays.
Speaking to a crowd of runners, volunteers and members of the public who came to support various environmental activities at Swinburne’s multi-purpose hall, WCS Malaysia Director, Dr Melvin Gumal urged young and old alike to consider the plight of endangered species in our country. In addition to describing efforts in the field, Dr Gumal’s presentation included graphic footage of injured and butchered wildlife, including a shark with its fins cut off, struggling on the sea bed to keep moving before inevitably suffocating or starving to death. This terrible and poignant image was then followed up with a video of 80 volunteers on a beach in Lundu waving after successfully picking up 180 kg of trash, filling 40 garbage bags.
“A member of the public came up to me after my presentation,” Dr Gumal said. “He told me: ‘Now I know what I can do to help. My family and I can do beach clean-ups! Also, I did not realise how terrible shark-finning was, resulting in the starvation and suffocation of the animal, when it cannot get water across its gills.’ It is vital that education and awareness are given to the public. If not, they will not know how their actions, such as using and disposing of a plastic straw, can actually be detrimental to wildlife and biodiversity.”
Also present at the event was Professor John Wilson, Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer. After flagging off the 10 km run, Professor Wilson ran the 5 km run, and stayed on to mingle with the volunteers and members of the public. “It is heartening to know that the Run for the Wild helps to get our message out there in the public. At Swinburne, we’re doing our best to spread awareness among staff and students. We hope that more and more individuals will learn about the importance of conserving our wildlife, and will do their bit, however big or small.”
Although the actual Run for the Wild in Kuching took place last Saturday, individuals who would still like to contribute to the conservation of orang-utans, sharks and rays can do so by registering for the Virtual Run at http://www.runforthewildmalaysia.com/register/online_registration.php and run at their own convenience before the end of December. So far, 1,565 individuals from 24 countries worldwide have taken part in the virtual run, trying to raise awareness in their own countries and to show their support for the conservation efforts of WCS Malaysia for the endangered species. Their photographs and track logs can be seen on the WCS Malaysia Facebook page.
Wildlife Conservation Society has more than half a million supporters worldwide. Its Malaysia Program is headquartered in Kuching, Sarawak, with offices in Kuala Lumpur, Kahang, Johor and Kuala Rompin in Peninsular Malaysia. Currently, WCS Malaysia works to conserve four priority species – orang-utans, sharks and rays, elephants and tigers. Go to https://malaysia.wcs.org/ for more information on WCS Malaysia and visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WCS.Malaysia/ for updates.