Challenging safari in Kangaroo Island

Some of the shots taken by the two finalists for the challenge. - Photo from AirAsia X/South Australian Tourism Commission

Two intrepid finalists of the first Air Asia X Takeover Challenge go head-to-head “shooting” animals on a safari in South Australia.

WHY go to the zoo when you can see animals in nature, without any fences in sight? Why not just head over to Adelaide in South Australia and then take a trip over to one of Australia’s great natural wonders – Kangaroo Island!

Even better, fly there courtesy of AirAsia X and with the added support of the South Australian Tourism Commission. Thanks to your votes and because of the Air Asia X Takeover Challenge, two finalists were flown there recently to undertake the first challenge of three, as selected by the public.

They were chosen from a number of creative videos that contestants had to submit and upload to the contest YouTube page ( It had to be good enough to persuade the public and ultimately the judges on why they should be the finalists. Entries not only came in from Malaysia but also all the way from Indonesia (it is open to anyone with a YouTube account).

The videos of

Ivan Kang Wei Hun, 24 and Mandy Yap Wei Mun, 23 proved to be the most persuasive.

Kang, who is a marketing executive, apparently thinks stuffed animals are “real” and so used a Barney the Dinosaur soft toy to plead for an actual safari to see live animals. Yap is not only a fashion designer but apparently has interactive skills with animals as she explained in the video.

Both were thrilled at being chosen especially Kang as he had only filmed, edited and submitted his entry on New Year’s Day, the closing date for submission.

“I had to kickstart my year with a challenge and I submitted without the intention of winning,” said Kang.

They won the right to take up the AAX Kangaroo Island Wildlife Safari contest.

Kangaroo Island is a wildlife sanctuary where 30% of the island is protected and besides the amazing wildlife, there are excellent swimming and surfing beaches, spectacular cliffs and breathtaking rock formations such as the Remarkable Rocks. The island also has a growing reputation as a food and wine region, renowned especially for its honey, eucalyptus oil, marron and sheep dairy farms (

Ivan Kang (right) heading out to Seal Bay on Kangaroo Island, South Australia. - Photo from AirAsia X/South Australian Tourism Commission
What you can find on the island are koalas, Kangaroo Island kangaroos (a sub-species of the Western Grey), pelicans, dolphins and Australian sea lions (an endangered species). The challenge involved both the contestants needing to find these five particular ones and “shoot” them – don’t worry no animals were harmed in this contest – taking their pictures for two points each.
Endearing sight.....seals resting by the shore of Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island. - Photo from AirAsia X/South Australian Tourism Commission

But there are other animal residents on the island and they include the echidna, Tammar wallaby, goanna, New Zealand fur seal, Wedge Tail eagle, magpie and Blue wren. If the finalists manage to capture pictures of them, they get one point for each shot.

Both Kang and Yap had to go around the island over land and sea. While enjoying the experience and the natural beauty of the island, they also had to concentrate on getting their pictures of the animals using an instant camera.

Kang found it a challenge, “With limited range and limited shots available, this should be photography 101 for all aspiring photographers. It’s also much harder (or weirder) when you have a bunch of camera crew and guides watching you crawl through the fields to get the perfect shot.”

For Yap it was all about life lessons – “It taught me the importance of focus, determination and patience.”

Some of the shots taken by the two finalists for the challenge. - Photo from AirAsia X/South Australian Tourism Commission

After all that, they were additionally rewarded – it was a tie. The prize – a scenic helicopter ride around Kangaroo Island, to soak it all in, with no more pressures of the challenge to face.

Yap thought it was surreal and the best experience of her life. Kang concurred, still in disbelief, for as he said he’s never won anything in his life before.

Those of you who want your chance to win, fret not, the next challenge will be revealed on February 3. Entries will then be open till February 23.

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