CAT Walk Trip
Tuesday, 17 January 2017
Our first-year BA(Ed) student, Jopescu Toh shared with us on his recent service learning CAT Walk trip to Sungai Yu, Pahang, Malaysia with a group of eight students from NUS and NIE.
Why did you embark on this trip?
I have some interest in wildlife conservation, so when I learnt about the CAT Walk trip that was scheduled for December 2016, I decided to find out more. Also, the idea of going on treks into the forests of Taman Negara sounded adventurous and exciting to me and some of my friends.
What exactly is CAT Walk?
CAT Walks are organised by the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), and form part of the Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT) programme initiated by MYCAT since 2010. The CAT programme is an initiative targeted at helping conservation efforts through the reduction and prevention of illegal activities such as poaching and encroachment within the Sungai Yu Wildlife Corridor. CAT Walks allow volunteers to help deter poachers by their presence along forest trails, help to look out for illegal snares and traps, and to help check or set up camera traps to monitor wildlife presence in the area.
During our three-day trip, we managed to complete a night walk, where we got to walk in a stream looking out for night wildlife; two CAT walks, one in Taman Negara and the other in the main forest range; as well as do our part for the ongoing rewilding efforts for Sungai Yu. Currently, there have been reforestation efforts in the habitat below the Sungai Yu Eco-Viaducts to provide safe passage for wildlife along the Sungai Yu Wildlife Corridor, the last connector between Taman Negara and the Main Range.
If you have to use one word to describe the entire experience of this trip / activity, what would it be?
Eye-opening. None of the briefings I had prior to the trip did full justice to the experience of the trip, as it was more fulfilling and memorable than what I had expected. Going on the trip, I came to better understand and appreciate the beauty of the forest as well as its varied wildlife, ranging from the smallest of insects to the largest of mammals.
What is one of the most meaningful takeaways for you during the trip?
One of the most meaningful takeaways for me is the importance of teamwork. We had members of varied ability levels in our team, and by working together to overcome the various obstacles that we encountered, we not only bonded as a team, but also had an extremely enjoyable trip. With group members coming from both NIE and NUS, we did not know each other prior to the trip, but managed to bond well during the various activities of the trip.
Describe one of the challenges that you faced during this trip.
One of the challenges I faced going for CAT Walk would be coping with the physical demands of the activities. As it was my first time taking part in such an activity, I was worried about my ability to cope with the physical demands. However, once I got used to it, I could then focus on taking in the sights and sounds of the forest.
Describe one of the most memorable moments during this trip.
One of the most memorable moments of the trip would be having Nasi Lemak for lunch sitting by a river on the third day. We had to buy lunch in the morning and bring it along with us on our trek. It was a unique experience having lunch in such a scenic spot. Our guide Ashleigh also showed us how to get the grease off our fingers by using sand from the river bank.
How have you changed as a person since the trip?
I’ve learned to be a source of support for my friends and helping my friends on the trek, especially when the trails became more challenging. I have also improved my skills as a team player. Being my first attempt at such an activity, I gained better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses and how I could better manage them.