KOTA KINABALU, Aug 9 — Webseries Borneo Wildlife Warriors that puts on the spotlight on Sabah’s Wildlife Rescue Unit is returning with a second season, this time charting the on-the-ground challenges that comes with protecting land that is home to species as large as elephants.
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In a six-part weekly programme that premieres next Wednesday, the show will further explore the protection theme, that shows a gritty behind-the-scenes look at rescuing elephants, orangutans and sun bears in the dense jungles of Borneo.
“Its very different now that host Aaron Bertie Gekoski is a Wildlife Rescue Unit ranger. He gets to start the real work, where the risks and threats are real,” said Scubazoo managing director Jason Isley.
Gekoski, former modelling agency owner – turned- conservationist/tv host said that the stint was the hardest experience he’s had to endure in his career as a wildlife photojournalist.
In the first season which started in March, Gekoski was taught the basics and given beginners tasks like cleaning cages at the unit’s base near the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park and helping to wrangle monitor lizards. In season two, he is put through his paces as they go on real wildlife hunts on Sabah’s east coast where the jungles are unrelenting and unforgiving.
“Waking up at the crack of dawn for the entire week to dart a bull elephant is not easy. You’re up early, at the risk of getting shot or attacked by an elephant, and getting lost in a jungle with no food or drink for over 12 hours. It’s intense,” he said.
Gekoski said that hosting the show gave him a new appreciation for the Wildlife Rescue Unit rangers and the hard work that was put into something that was seemingly simple as a wildlife rescue.
But what the show has done is also present the struggles of wildlife conservation and the increasing human wildlife conflict to a wider audience.
“It is particularly valuable to a privately-funded entity like ours. Any bit of publicity and awareness helps. The more people we reach who know about our work, the more we can hopefully do in the future,” said the unit’s acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez.
She said that since the show aired, they have had groups come forward interested to know more and help fund its operations.
The unit is fully funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council under its conservation fund and costs run into about RM100,000 per month for salaries, allowances and operational costs alone.
However, the amount of exposure they have had has also led to more reports and therefore, more costs were needed to run.
“People are learning about us and the work we do and while that is good, we need to improve and upgrade our infrastructure,” she said.
Episodes will be released on Scubazoo Tv’s (SZ.tv) Facebook page and online at Scubazoo.tv.