Our organisation’s name is simply Rimba, which means ‘jungle’ or ‘forest’ in the Malay language. Rimba is a Malaysian non-profit research group focused on conducting conservation science. We were established to help provide evidence-based solutions to conservation problems. We use the results of our studies to engage constructively with policymakers and natural resource managers to help improve the protection and management of Peninsular Malaysia’s biodiversity. We take a collaborative and inclusive approach to our work, and function as a virtual lab to connect like-minded people.
We were first established in November 2010 as a non-profit research enterprise (registered as Rimba Research; 002085549-T). As of 30 December 2016, we officially became a non-governmental organisation (NGO) under the Registrar of Societies Malaysia (registered as Persatuan Penyelidik Rimba Malaysia; ROS: PPM-017-14-30122016).
We are dependent on grants and donations to remain operational, and due to financial limitations we are currently in a transitional period in preparation to close down at the end of 2022.
Dr. Sheema Abdul Aziz – Co-founder & President
Prof. Gopalasamy Reuben Clements – Co-founder & Vice President
Mr. Akmal Arif Mohd Razali – Secretary
Mr. Sri Venkateswara Rao – Assistant Secretary
Ms. Lam Wai Yee – Treasurer
Committee members – Dr. Liew Thor Seng and Mr. Foon Junn Kitt
Sheema is the co-founder & President of Rimba, and Principal Investigator of Project Pteropus. She has a BA in Archaeology from the University of York, an MSc in Conservation Biology from the University of Kent, and a PhD in Ecology from the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle. She is also a steering committee member of the SEABCRU Flying Fox Priority Group, and a member of the Human Dimensions Working Group of the IUCN Bat Specialist Group. Her work focuses on bat-plant interactions, finding ways to understand and highlight ecosystem services of fruit bats as a strategy to promote bat conservation. She has worked under numerous conservation organisations, but most extensively under WWF-Malaysia to help improve conservation and park management in Belum-Temengor, Perak. However, she has a diverse career background that includes general ecosystem services, population ecology, tropical forest and protected area management, poaching and wildlife trade, local communities, indigenous rights, conservation communication, the social sciences (especially archaeology, anthropology and heritage conservation), and mass communications. More details of her expertise and research interests can be found here.
Reuben is the co-founder and Vice-President of Rimba, and served as Principal Investigator of the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project and the Harimau Selamanya project. He is now with the Kenyir For Life project, and occasionally assists with Project Pteropus. He is also a Professor with Sunway University, and a Field Conservation Associate with Woodland Park Zoo and Panthera. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Biology, and completed his PhD in Conservation Science at James Cook University. He previously served as Species Manager for WWF-Malaysia, and his previous research focus specialised in limestone snails and their karst habitats. More details of his expertise and research interests can be found here.
Sri Rao is the Assistant Secretary of Rimba and was a Liaison Officer for Harimau Selamanya, but is now leading the Kenyir For Life project. He used to work for the Tropical Rainforest Conservation Research Centre. Sri completed his BSc in Biomedical Science at Management & Science University, Malaysia. He subsequently obtained his MSc in Endangered Species Recovery and Conservation from Nottingham Trent University, UK. Sri aspires to pursue his PhD and run initiatives that focus on empowering and building capacity of local communities to manage their surrounding natural environment to enhance human-nature connections. He seeks novel scientific approaches and education as mechanisms to achieve this.
Akmal is the Secretary of Rimba, and was also a Forest Patroller for the Harimau Selamanya project. He graduated from Universiti Sains Malaysia with a BSc in Biology (Zoology) prior to joining Rimba. Driven by his love for cats, Akmal started with Rimba when he first volunteered to help with data cataloging and fieldwork for Harimau Selamanya. He then carried out patrolling and surveillance as full-time staff of the project. He pursued his Master’s degree in Counselling at HELP, and is now with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
Wai Yee is the Treasurer of Rimba, and served as Chief Operations Officer for Harimau Selamanya. She obtained her MSc degree in Conservation Science in Universiti Malaysia Terengganu under a scholarship from Panthera, and she also has a BA in Psychology from UCSI University, Malaysia. Wai Yee is especially interested in investigating the behavioural aspects of the ‘landscape of fear’ and its implications for wildlife conservation. A Malaysian who grew up in Bandung, Indonesia, she’s had plenty of diverse work experience, flying around as airlines staff, volunteering in Cambodia with children from poverty-stricken communities, and carrying out intensive camera-trapping as a researcher under the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). She’s also quite partial to felids! As of October 2020 Wai Yee is now the Country Manager for Panthera Malaysia, where she continues to manage tiger conservation under Project Kenyir, who now work in partnership with Kenyir For Life (KFL).
Liew is a Committee Member, and was the Principal Investigator of Project Limestone. Liew graduated with a MSc from the Institute of Tropical Biology and Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), and completed his PhD with Leiden University on molecular phylogenetics and morphospace evolution on landsnails in Malaysia. He is now a senior lecturer at the same institute in UMS. Liew expertly uses molecular techniques to answer biological and ecological questions involving both animal and plant groups and is experienced with the use of GIS and statistical techniques as well.
Junn Kitt is a Committee Member of Rimba, and was the Project Coordinator for Project Limestone. He was also a Data Analyst for Harimau Selamanya in 2015. Prior to joining Rimba, he completed his BSc in Marine Science at the University of Western Australia, studying the ecology of tropical terrestrial molluscs. Junn Kitt spent most of his holidays exploring the rainforests, rivers and coasts of his homeland, Malaysia. He has a deep interest in the conservation of tropical biota, especially molluscs. He received his MSc in molecular phylogenetics of one land snail genus Alycaeus from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (supervised by Liew). Junn Kitt is now is now a Field Assistant at the Australian Museum in Sydney, Australia.
Friends of Rimba
Tajang was the Principal Investigator of Hutanomics, a project that aimed to develop biofinancing solutions through scientific and economic research for the conservation of threatened species and ecosystems. He was also a team member of Kenyir For Life. He has experience in developing restoration and conservation projects, working with various stakeholder groups to address forest degradation in Malaysia. Tajang obtained his PhD (Science) from Monash University, studying biodiversity effects on ecosystem functioning across landscapes.
Hana was the Communications Manager for Project Pteropus, and now serves in the same role for Kenyir For Life (KFL). Having a background in design, advertising, public relations and social media, Hana brings her past experience working on PR and social media campaigns with notable brands/companies such as Nestlé Malaysia, AIG Insurance, Bata Singapore, and the Selangor State Government’s #SelangorBebasPlastik campaign in 2016, to name a few. Hana’s role in Project Pteropus was to help strategise and execute public outreach programmes and awareness campaigns, but she also provided communications and design support for other Rimba projects. Her main role in KFL is to provide communications support for the management of Kenyir State Park.
Mary-Ruth was a Senior Conservation Scientist under Project Pteropus. She used to work at Wildlife Reserves Singapore as a conservation and research officer, coordinating local wildlife rehabilitation and release. She completed a BSc in Life Sciences at the National University of Singapore, where she also spent some years as a research assistant on an urban reticulated python (Python reticulatus) radio telemetry study within Singapore. Her interests lie in natural history, as well as understanding how faith and worldviews shape human perceptions of conservation. She is now pursuing her MSc in Ecological Economics at the University of Leeds, UK.
Sai was the Principal Investigator of Project Cerberus, a pilot project that aimed to investigate the effectiveness of conservation canine units for Peninsular Malaysia. She obtained a BSc in Biotechnology from the University of Toronto, and has had her dreams set upon conservation after a life-changing experience in Ecuador. Before joining Rimba, first under Harimau Selamanya, she worked on the optimisation of oil palm waste-composting technology and then pursued her MSc in Conservation Science at Imperial College London, where she conducted her research on riparian corridors in the fragmented landscapes of Sabah. Sai feels deeply connected to the natural environment, and wants to dedicate her energy and time to minimising the damage and pain that humans cause to other living beings. She is now a Project Coordinator with IFAW, and has also joined forces with Justice for Wildlife Malaysia (JWM) working in partnership with Kenyir For Life (KFL).
Ant was a Liaison Officer for Harimau Selamanya and Project Coordinator for Justice for Silent Victims (JSV), which was a series of training workshops aimed at enhancing the success rates of wildlife crime prosecutions in Peninsular Malaysia. She has a BSc in Computer Science (Bioinformatics) and PhD from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. Her main research fields are disease monitoring and surveillance technology, social network analysis, GIS, and application development. Her career passions include data wrangling and coding solutions. She has worked with several local institutions to develop small mammal, amphibian, and orchid species web databases. Prior to joining Rimba, she worked as a research consultant at the National Blood Centre to develop an application for managing blood donations. Ant is a proud cat lover and a fan of long-distance running. She is now continuing her legislative work started under JSV as a spin-off from Rimba, a separate entity called Justice for Wildlife Malaysia (JWM), who work in partnership with Kenyir For Life (KFL).
Shauna was the Wildlife K9 Training Lead & Handler on Project Cerberus. She obtained a BSc in Wildlife Conservation at the University of Kent, and has always jumped at opportunities to work with organisations that hold education and conservation of nature at their core. Having grown up caring for dogs and cats all her life, the chance to combine this with her interest in protecting wildlife was a dream come true. Prior to Rimba, Shauna spent time on projects that focused on sun bear conservation, turtle conservation, elephant retirement and sanctuary, and environmental consultancy; she has worked on the Perhentian Islands as part of a team that focused on environmental education and creating sustainable ecotourism practices within the island’s community. Aside from this, she also loves keeping herself active by instructing indoor cycling classes and playing Irish football with her local club. She is now with Justice for Wildlife Malaysia (JWM).
May was the Community Liaison Manager for Harimau Selamanya. She has a BSc in Environment from Universiti Putra Malaysia and an MPhil in Conservation Leadership from the University of Cambridge. She was previously with the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT). May believes in collaboration and thinks that conservation leadership can and should occur in every field. However, the ultimate conservation challenge is that we need new economic models that reduce inequality – where the rich embrace ‘degrowth’ and the poor be allowed to accumulate wealth until there is a steady-state economy with genuine shared prosperity; where indigenous cosmology is incorporated into indicators of well-being so that the Western way of life is not the only yardstick. But for now, she enjoys listening to other people’s stories. She is now running her own independent initiative focused on the indigenous Orang Asli communities of the Kenyir area, Projek Takop, working in partnership with Kenyir For Life (KFL).
Xuan was the Field Coordinator for Project Cerberus. She completed her BSc in Environmental Science at Aberystwyth University. Before joining Rimba, she was with a community project that worked with the local Orang Asli to tackle poaching, and provide classes for the local children to help with literacy. Since then, she has developed an interest in indigenous community engagement along with forest conservation. She aspires to pursue her postgraduate degree in the field of Ethnobotany and Ethnoecology, hoping that one day the knowledge she acquires will be able to help empower local indigenous communities to conserve and preserve their land and cultural heritage.
Joon Yee was a Research Associate with Project Pteropus, and conducted part of the project’s durian pollination research for his MSc under Reuben at Sunway University, co-supervised by Sheema. He also has a BSc Hons in Environmental Science from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Prior to joining Rimba, he was enrolled in the Erasmus Mundus Masters Course in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems. Through their mangrove ecology field school he developed a strong interest in mangrove ecosystems. After experiencing the awe-inspiring beauty of Malaysian forests during his education, he believes that forests should be conserved to inspire and enrich the lives of others just like they did his! Joon hopes that his prior experience with local community engagement, and strong command of Cantonese will prove useful when communicating and engaging with durian growers. Outside of conservation, he is a tea collector and motorsport fanatic.
Erin was the Data Analyst for Project Cerberus. With ambitions to become an investigator after watching too much CSI, she embarked on her combined BA in Criminology & Law at the University of Chester. She then obtained her MSc in Crime Science, Investigation & Intelligence from the University of Portsmouth. Besides studying, she spent her time volunteering, representing her universities in various sports, and working as a bartender. A certified counter fraud investigator, she worked with the British Cabinet Office and NHS Counter Fraud Authority, London, in Strategic Intelligence prior to joining Panthera, paving her way into wildlife conservation. As an activist, she is especially passionate about cultural criminology and its effects on global crime, aiming to encourage interdisciplinary cooperation for the greater good. She aspires to pursue a PhD in countering transnational organised crime in the near future, and is now working as a Pangolin Campaigner for the Environmental Investigation Agency.
John believes conservation is a way of life – everyone should be a conservationist. He was Chief Liaison Officer for Harimau Selamanya, and subsequently helped to produce the Management Plan for Kenyir State Park under Kenyir For Life. An engineer by training, John embraced the philosophy of conservation after years of introspection. He served for almost a decade with WCS-Malaysia as a wildlife ecologist before joining UNIMAS as a research fellow managing his own research group, HOSCAP Borneo, in the mountains of interior Sarawak. He serves on IUCN Red List assessments and helped set up wildlife monitoring projects in Sabah and Vietnam. He holds Master’s degrees in engineering (VTU, India) and conservation biology (JCU, Australia) and has a PhD from IZW Germany, modelling small carnivore distributions across Borneo. His research can be found on Google Scholar and Researchgate. John’s passion lies in working towards a human society that sees itself as part of the natural ecosystem and not above it, a society that consciously chooses not to enslave other beings.
Marcus is interested in Southeast Asian mammal evolutionary history, and the ecology and conservation of mammals in threatened, human-modified, and fragmented landscapes. He collaborated with Sheema on a side project on the day-flying bats of Tioman Island. He is currently on leave from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, National University of Singapore to pursue his PhD at George Mason University. Marcus is passionate about biodiversity outreach and science communication for conservation, and helped to set up and manage the Rimba Twitter account.
Lahiru is currently pursing his PhD at the National University of Singapore. He did his undergraduate degree also at NUS, carrying out a project on conservation of peat swamp forests in Sundaland. He completed a Master’s degree in plant taxonomy at the University of Edinburgh and Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh. He has worked for a number of years managing ex situ conservation plant material at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. While there he helped develop the 5ha Healing Garden and also ran the Tree Gang for a few years. He works on a multi-pronged approach to conservation of peat swamp forests and limestone karsts using remote sensing, plant taxonomy, entomology and above ground biomass estimation. You can find out more details about his work here and you contact him at: lahirux AT gmail DOT com
Faiz was a Community Liaison Officer for Harimau Selamanya. A microbiologist by training, a conservationist at heart, Faiz pursued his MSc in Conservation Biology at the National University of Malaysia (UKM) right after he completed his BSc in Microbiology from the same university. Prior to joining Rimba, he worked for a year as a Research Assistant at UKM, assisting leptospirosis and ecological research, before working as a Nature Education Officer at the Dark Cave conservation site in Batu Caves. Faiz thinks that every human should be a steward of the earth, and decided to fully immerse himself into the conservation field; to be the voice for the voiceless and to help Mother Nature in any way that he can.
Charina was an Analyst for Harimau Selamanya and also worked under Kenyir For Life on a freelance basis. She has a BSc in Biology with a minor in Psychology from Sunway University. Prior to joining Rimba, she travelled to various parts of Sabah, where she was involved in community and environmental projects, including a 6-month internship at the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. She subsequently joined Rimba as a volunteer to learn and help out with data cataloging. Charina is now pursuing her MSc in Conservation Biology at the University of Kent, UK.
Zatul (middle, in blue) was a researcher in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor project. She first got involved in Rimba when she volunteered to conduct questionnaire surveys for Project Pteropus. Prior to joining, Zatul completed her BSc in Conservation Biology at Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
Shu Woan was a part-time Research Assistant with Harimau Selamanya and Project Pteropus. She is currently pursuing her PhD in the University of Montana. Prior to joining, Shu Woan completed her BSc in Biology at Universiti Putra Malaysia and studied Irrawaddy dolphins for her MSC at Universiti Malaysia Sabah. During her Msc, Shu Woan had the opportunity to visit indigenous communities. This gave her an insight to the practices of local communities that were akin to conservation. Shu Woan switched from marine to terrestrial research after her MSc. Collaring Sunda clouded leopards was one of her highlights then. Ultimately, Shu Woan would like to learn how to balance research with on-the-ground conservation efforts, as well as how to evaluate conservation efforts.
Laurie was the former Head of Monitoring with the Harimau Selamanya project. He still helps out with making videos for Rimba’s projects. Laurie started out with Rimba on a 6-month volunteering stint in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project, making the long journey all the way from Oxford, UK. However, he ended up staying longer than he planned, and helped carry out our Dhole Conservation Case Study. After that he spearheaded his very own project: ‘Conservation Status of Big Cats in a Threatened Wildlife Corridor in Malaysia’ – affectionately known as ‘Project Black Cloud’ for short. This work was carried out for his MSc at Nottingham University Malaysia Campus (supervised by Ahimsa and Reuben), and was a continuation of Reuben’s work in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor. He has a bachelors degree in Zoology from Cardiff University and is also hooked on surfing, capoeira and photography. You can view a selection of his work at www.lauriehedges.co.uk.
Ahimsa was the lead researcher of ‘Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants‘ or MEME, which was previously under Rimba but is now a separate project under the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC). He also co-supervised Sheema’s PhD, and supported Project Pteropus with video traps. Ahimsa received his PhD from the University of Tokyo and is now with the Chinese Academy of Sciences at Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden (China). He is primarily interested in the ecology and conservation of large herbivores such as elephants and their interactions with plants (e.g. food habits, seed dispersal). More details of Ahimsa’s research expertise can be found here.
Giam was the lead researcher of ‘Ecology and conservation of blackwater fishes under land-use change‘. He still provides statistical advice to Rimba’s researchers. Giam graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Master’s degree in Biology, and completed his PhD under Princeton University. His research focused on quantifying the impact of land-use change on freshwater fish communities in peat swamp forests such as those in Sarawak. He has also developed spatially-explicit models of peatland deforestation in collaboration with Center for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing (CRISP) at the National University of Singapore. He is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. More details of his work can be found here.
David is an evolutionary ecologist and conservation scientist and is currently an Associate Professor with the University of La Verne in California. He has worked on frogs on Gunung Kinabalu, and challenges in regulating transboundary haze and many other projects in Southeast Asia. His specialties include reptiles and amphibians, but he also helps train regional conservation scientists to communicate their science more effectively to diverse but targeted audiences and stakeholders. He also works with the IUCN’s Climate Change Specialist Group. David received his PhD from the University of Miami on frogs in Papua New Guinea. Details of David’s research can be found on his Google Scholar and Research Gate pages.
Param used to work with WWF-Malaysia, the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project and Project Black Cloud. He is native to the land of Malaysia and hails from the village of Semelor, Temengor, Perak. His duties included looking out for animal signs, spotting fruit trees, and leading habitat use surveys, where he recorded animal signs and identified suitable areas to deploy camera-traps. He is the quietest of the group, but probably the best at spotting animal signs. He now works in MEME.
Puyee used to work with WWF-Malaysia, the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project, Project Black Cloud, and MEME. He is native to the land of Malaysia and hails from the village of Semelor, Temengor, Perak. His duties included looking out for animal signs and spotting fruit trees. He had the most infectious laughter of the lot and there was never a dull moment with him around. He is now back in his kampung helping out his community.
Acik worked with the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project. He is native to the land of Malaysia and hails from the village of Semelor, Temengor, Perak. His duties included leading habitat use surveys, where he recorded animal signs with a GPS and found suitable areas to deploy camera-traps. Acik was the best driver of the group and spoke the most English. He is now back in his kampung helping out his community.
Lan used to work with WWF-Malaysia and the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project. He is native to the land of Malaysia and hails from the village of Raba, Temengor, Perak. His duties includes looking out for animal signs and spotting fruit trees. He was our best cook (formerly a chef’s apprentice) and the most skillful footballer on the pitch.
Paul Henry used to work as a research assistant with the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project (Nov 2010-June 2011). He graduated from University Tunku Abdul Rahman with a Bachelor Degree in Biomedical Sciences. He also spent his first two semesters studying Marine Biology at University Malaysia Terengganu. He has a strong interest in nature photography and wildlife conservation, especially on sea turtles and tigers. Paul has gained valuable experience by volunteering in numerous community and wildlife conservation projects in Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia. His passion was rewarded by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers, which awarded him the Volunteer of the Year for 2008. During his time in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project, he developed research experience on wildlife monitoring techniques. Since then he has attended training courses in India, Malaysia, and is now pursuing a PhD in Paleontology in China. We wish him all the best!
As a research assistant, William Yap was in charge of GIS and remote sensing in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project (Nov 2010-Dec 2011). He holds a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Management from Monash University. During his time in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project, he developed research experience on wildlife monitoring techniques, GIS and remote sensing. After leaving Rimba, William joined WWF-International’s Tigers Alive Program as their GIS officer, and is now a GIS consultant for different organisations.