First Sabahan primatologist
Posted on February 8, 2012, Wednesday
TUARAN: A local Sabahan, Andy Martin Ginal Martin, has become the first fully qualified primatologist in the State.
Martin, a research assistant at Sepilok, underwent a two-year course at Oxford Brookes under the full sponsorship of the Orangutan Appeal UK and has already received accreditation from the university.
When interviewed at the Sepilok Orangutan Appeal UK cocktail party at Rasa Ria Resort recently, Martin said that as a Sabahan, he felt the education he gained was important to further his expertise in the field.
“For now in Sabah, there is no one doing this private conservation. We are Sabahans, we have the orang utans and we still depend on people from the UK and elsewhere to conduct studies for us,” he said.
He acknowledged the Appeal for their role in making his graduation a reality.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without their support because financially it was impossible to continue with my study for more than one year in the UK.”
Martin said among the important things he had learnt from his academic stint is that he needs to look at conservation from the point of view of education.
“We need to send the conservation message to the world because now in Sabah, we have a lot of programmes but educationally, we still need outside experts to explain the knowledge,” he explained.
As a primatologist, he also commented on the survival of the orang utan in Sabah.
He said that he believed the orang utan in Sabah still have a future and it is crucial for everyone to work together and cooperate to accomplish the objectives and researches in the field.
Martin also said that the most urgent need for the survival of the species now is to protect the forest, the habitat and their population in the wild.
“There is also an urgent need to reduce deforestation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sue Sheward, the founder and chairperson of Orangutan Appeal UK, said that it is important for Sabah to have its own people as primatologists.
She commended Martin for his tenacity in continuing with his study despite the disasters that befell upon his family.
“In the midst of it, his family house was razed by fire and his father suffered serious burns and was very ill, but Andy went on.
“He received an extension and was able to complete his degree. We are glad that now he has passed his degree and is the first Sabahan to be a qualified primatologist and I feel he will make a difference,” she said.