Director of WCS’s Malaysia Program Received the Prestigious Whitley Prize, Funded by the Arcus Foundation

NEW YORK (September 18, 2014) – WCS conservationist and Malaysia Program Director Dr. Melvin Gumal was honored last night at a reception hosted by the Arcus Foundation to celebrate his 2014 Whitley Award, a prestigious international conservation prize, and to raise awareness of the need to protect orang-utan.

The Whitley Award for Conservation in Ape Habitats, one of eight prizes awarded by the Whitley Fund for Nature, is donated by the Arcus Foundation, which is a leading global foundation dedicated to the idea that people can live in harmony with one another and the natural world. The Arcus Foundation focuses its conservation efforts on saving and protecting great apes. Jon Stryker, Founder and President of the Arcus Foundation, was on hand to host last night's event.

In May 2014, Gumal was honored with the 2014 Whitley Award for his work with the Sarawak Government in Malaysia to conserve orang-utan and their rain forest habitat.

With survey data provided by WCS and counterparts in the government over the years, Sarawak has recently expanded its protection for orang-utan by enlarging Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary. Sarawak is also proposing extensions to Batang Ai National Park as well as to Lanjak-Entimau in the near future. Among the key government agencies involved in Gumal’s survey and conservation efforts are the Sarawak Forest Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Borneo Adventure, a travel company which pioneered ecotourism to see orang-utan in the area.

Gumal has been Director of the WCS Malaysia Program since 2003. Prior to that, he worked with the Sarawak Forest Department for 15 years, where he initiated programs to engage local communities with park management through conservation education, developing alternative livelihood sources, business development as well as helping the communities learn English for use in eco-tourism and guiding.

The Bornean orang-utan (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) is the last iconic large mammal left in Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo. Today, orang-utan populations are only found in two locations in Sarawak and Melvin and his co-workers in Government and the business sector will jointly lead a team of researchers and educators to conduct a definitive orang-utans survey and undertake conservation education programs with the local Iban communities. Working with the government to co-develop conservation policies and alongside other agencies such as nature travel groups will increase the likelihood that all stakeholders share a common vision to secure the future of orang-utans and their habitats.

WCS: Mary Dixon, 347-840-1242;
Arcus Foundation: Andy Marra, 646-837-8879;
Arcus Foundation
Founded in 2000 by Jon Stryker, the Arcus Foundation is a private grantmaking institution dedicated to the idea that people can live in harmony with one another and the natural world. Arcus’ work is based on the belief that respect for diversity among peoples and in nature is essential to a positive future for our planet and all of its inhabitants. The Foundation works globally and has offices in New York City and Cambridge, UK. To learn more, visit:

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: ;; Follow: @thewcs.