KUCHING: Students from three schools showed their creativity in staging original dramas on saving orangutans in an inaugural competition at Matang Wildlife Centre.
Jointly organised by Sarawak Forestry and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the competition was themed “Rebuilding the cultural bridge between local communities and wild orangutans of Batang Ai and Lanjak-Entimau, Sarawak”.
The schools had been given a month to prepare their scripts and then to bring them alive in a drama.
Teams from SM Sains Kuching Utara emerged as winners in the Malay and English language groups while Tunku Putra School was the runner-up in the English group.
Besides winning a trophy and hamper, the students and teachers from SM Sains Kuching Utara will proceed to a longhouse in Batang Ai to present their drama and go on a jungle trekking expedition, which will include interpretation of the wild by Sarawak Forestry and WCS staff.
There will also be a cultural show by the villagers to highlight how their local culture includes protecting orangutans and their habitats.
Sarawak Forestry chief executive Datuk Ali Yusop said he was happy with the input from the schools and the level of energy devoted by the students and teachers in wanting to protect orangutans and their habitats.
He also said he would like to see the competition extended throughout the state.
At the closing of the competition, WCS Malaysia Programme director Dr Melvin Gumal said conservation in Sarawak needed to continue with the younger generation.
He highlighted the history of orangutan surveys in Sarawak dating back to the 1960s with the Sarawak Museum, state Forest Department and WCS, and hoped that such commitment would continue well into the future.
The organisers then handed over scripts, papier-mache masks and other stage props to the schools for future orangutan dramas.
The drama competition will be a long-term project by Sarawak Forestry and WCS to engage students and rural communities on the protection of wild orangutans in the state.
Funds for the project were donated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Crest Megaway Sdn Bhd, Whitley Fund for Nature and Arcus Foundation.