Sea turtle symposium at IMCC 2018

Photo credit - Perhentian Turtle Project 2015

Photo courtesy of Perhentian Turtle Project

The 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC) will be held in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia from 24th to 29th June 2018. The IMCC is the flagship biennial meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Marine Section, previously held in Washington D.C, USA (2009), Victoria, Canada (2011), Glasgow, UK (2014) and St. John’s, Canada (2016). For the first time, the meeting will be held in Malaysia, a “low or middle income” country as defined by the World Bank, also one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries.

The IMCC brings together a large number of marine conservation biologists, social scientists, practitioners, policy makers, teachers and journalists to help “Make Marine Science Matter”, which presents a good opportunity for sea turtle conservationists to meet and share knowledge. Dr. Chen Pelf Nyok (from Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia) and I (from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu) will be organizing a sea turtle symposium titled Sea turtle conservation in Southeast Asia: where we are and how do we move forward”?

Sea turtles are ancient creatures that have been around since the time of the dinosaurs. Nearly all seven species of sea turtles that spend majority of the lifetime in the ocean are endangered due to fisheries bycatch, marine debris, harvesting for meat and eggs, destruction of habitat as well as boat strikes. In some countries, conservation efforts have begun more than half a century ago. Much has been studied about their life history, population trends, ecology, conservation genetics, conservation efforts, human-sea turtle interactions, policy and etc.


Photos courtesy of Perhentian Turtle Project

The symposium will provide an avenue for sea turtle researchers, conservationists, non-academicians to promote their research, share their findings, identify common threats and legislation loopholes.It also provides a platform to discuss how these findings can be translated into advances in conservation policies and legislation, and communicated to the public.

Speakers will share on the various aspects of sea turtle research and conservation in the Southeast Asia region at this symposium, including Dr. Nicholas Pilcher from Marine Research Foundation who is also a member of IUCN SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group, Gavin Jolis and Noor Azariyah Mohtar from WWF-Malaysia, Dr. Jarina Mohd Jani who is a human ecologist from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Sue A. Ong from Large Marine Vertebrates Research Institute Philippines, The Cuong Chu from Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, K. L. Chew from Lang Tengah Turtle Watch as well as Tanya Leibrick from Turtle Watch Camp.

In addition to this symposium, there are numerous presentations on sea turtle research and conservation during the IMCC by Dr. Andrea Phillott (from FLAME University), Madhuri Ramesh (from Dakshin Foundation), Azalea Anota (from University of Papua New Guinea), Dr. Abdulmaula Hamza (from Universiti Malaysi Terengganu) and many more. Dr. Juanita Joseph from Universiti Malaysia Sabah will also be giving a plenary talk on the current status and challenges in saving sea turtles in Malaysia. Click here to check out all the amazing turtle talks at IMCC.

We look forward to meeting you at IMCC! Feel free to get in touch with Pelf ( or me ( for more information on the sea turtle symposium.

Seh Ling.PTP

Photo courtesy of Perhentian Turtle Project


Asian elephant symposia at ATBC 2018


Using GPS collars to study wild elephants’ movement (photo credit: Wong Ee Phin/MEME)

The 55th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) will be held in Kuching, Sarawak from the 1st to 5th July 2019. This is one of several international conferences taking place in Malaysia, attracting researchers from all over the world, that we (biodiversity and conservation researchers in Malaysia) should take the chance to participate.

Realising that ATBC 2018 presents a good opportunity for us to gather elephant researchers in the region to share knowledge, Dr. Nurzhafarina Othman (from Project Seratu Atai) and I (from Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants, MEME) decided to take up the challenge to organise a symposium for Asian elephants (Elephas maximus). Happy to say that our proposal has been accepted and the theme of the symposium is:  “Moving towards coexistence-reconciling elephant conservation and humans’ social dimension”.

Asian elephants, the largest terrestrial animal in Asia, are being threatened by the lack of habitat and also human-elephant conflict throughout its range. Besides the lack of knowledge on elephant population and behaviour, there is also a big gap on understanding local communities and their sentiments, and how to engage with them successfully on elephant conservation. Often the need of the community and elephant conservation are placed at opposing ends, when there could be a middle path that allows coexistence.

The objective of this symposium is to examine the human-elephant relationship from both angles (i.e. human social dimension and elephant behaviour) to promote deeper insights into human-elephant conflict and mitigation impact. Our speakers will look at the intricate relationship between human and elephants, emphasising on what it takes to engage with local communities and live in coexistence with elephants, and share new findings on elephant-human relationships. Instead of managing elephants as pest and problem animals, we should collectively start looking into conservation psychology and see how we can manage people to reduce the conflict.

There will be a diversity of speakers at this symposium including key players in the field of Asian elephant conservation, Ph.D.s and early career researchers. Confirmed speakers include Dr. Alexandra Zimmerman (Chester Zoo) who is the head of IUCN Human Wildlife Conflict Task Force, and Ananda Kumar (Nature Conservation Foundation) who won the esteemed Whitley Awards for nature conservation with the elephant SMS project at Annamalai Hills, southern India.

If you are interested to attend the ATBC 2018, the deadline for early bird registration and abstract submission 31st of March 2018 (note that for symposium abstract, the deadline is 15th March). To find out more about ATBC 2018, visit their website at For information on the Asian elephant symposium, feel free to contact the organisers at and

wild elephants in Kenyir_guess how many

Wild elephants at Kenyir, Terengganu (Photo credit: Wong Ee Phin/ MEME)


Wild mango seedlings growing from seeds defecated by Asian elephants (Photo credit: Wong Ee Phin/MEME)


Southeast Asian Seabird Symposium at IMCC5

Three seabird researchers from Malaysia (Dr. Abdulmaula Hamza), Japan (Dr. Simba Chan) and Hong Kong (Mr. Yat-tung Yu) are organising a symposium titled “Seabirds in Southeast Asia: need for collaboration programme” ​within the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC5), which will be held in June 24th-29th, 2018 at the City of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.

This seabird symposium aims to present current initiatives in seabird conservation, needs in SE Asia and to discuss the possibility of a new collaborative project on seabird research and conservation via policies, training and management guidelines of seabird sites for South East Asia. It also aims to promote participatory research among seabird scientists with in the East Asian Australasian Flyway region. The symposium also will present current efforts of ringing and tracking schemes in the Flyway region and how we can establish a common ringing/tracking scheme database for the Southeast Asian region, to better understand movements of breeding seabirds in the region using scientific standards.


There will be 10-12 presenters, and each oral presentation will be 10-12 minutes with time reserved at the end for discussion. Please let us know​ ​if you are interested to share your research at the symposium, and provide us with a title of your presentation. We will then email you the symposium code, which you will provide when you submit the abstract on the IMCC5 website.

The call for Abstracts is now open, and will close on 16th March 2018. You will need to sign up for an account to submit your Abstract.


If you need more information please email Dr. Abdulmaula Hamza at or

Sea turtle symposium at the IMCC5

The Turtle Working Group is organising a symposium titled “Sea turtle conservation in Southeast Asia: where we are and how do we move​ ​forward?” ​at the 5th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC), which will be held as follows:

Date: 24-29th June 2018
Venue: Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

This symposium​ ​provides a platform for sea turtle communities in Southeast Asia to identify common threats, to build network and foster future collaborative efforts and research to protect sea turtle​ ​populations.

The symposium will last 2 hours in total. There will be 8-10 presenters, and each oral presentation will be 10-12 minutes with time reserved at the end for discussion. Please let us know​ ​if you are interested to speak at the symposium​, and provide us with a title of your presentation. We will then email you the symposium code, which you will provide when you submit the abstract on the IMCC5 website.

The call for Abstracts is now open, and will close on 16th March 2018. You will need to sign up for an account to submit your Abstract.