From park ranger to PhD

Keen researcher: Ros Effendi finds pleasure in studying birds through his spotting scope.

AS a seven-year-old, Perlis-born Ros Effendi Ramli Chua enjoyed watching documentaries on TV channels like Nat Geo Wild and the Discovery Channel.

That was when he first took an interest in wildlife and nature.

But the prospect of pursuing a career in ecology had never crossed his mind.

It was only when he started working as a nature guide in Langkawi after obtaining a diploma in business administration and management that he was inspired to explore the field.

“I didn’t venture into the world of ecology until I was 24.

“I led local and foreign tourists on nature-related tours, such as birdwatching, kayaking and mangrove tours.

“We explored the flora and fauna on the island. That experience inspired me to learn and share Malaysia’s natural heritage,” he told StarEdu.

Since then, he has worked in three forest reserves in Langkawi and Pahang, serving as a chief naturalist, a park executive and a park manager over eight years, from 2014 to 2022.

Working in the forest reserves, he said, enabled him to gain firsthand exposure to how organisms interact in an ecosystem.

“There is something about nature that fascinates me, especially the interactions that involve the interdependencies of biological and abiological factors within an ecosystem,” he said.

To deepen his understanding, the 34-year-old went on to pursue a master’s degree in conservation biology, which he obtained last year through the Accredited Prior Experiential Learning for Access (Apel.A) route.

He is currently pursuing his PhD with a focus on environmental conservation, while working with EcoExplorers Malaysia, a non-governmental organisation in Selangor that organises ecological trips for the public.

Looking back on the five years he was in Langkawi, he shared what is to him his most memorable feat – his discovery of a stronghold of 70 great hornbills after hours of searching for them at Gunung Raya, a mountain made of fine and medium-grained biotite granite rock with a peak at a staggering 881m.

“I had seen elephants and a tiger in close proximity in the wild but that encounter of the great hornbills influenced me to take up birdwatching as a hobby.

“In fact, birds are my source of motivation that helps me retain my determination to push on in my work. This is because birds everywhere are sensitive indicators of ecological health,” he said.

Citing an example, he explained that when birds do not migrate following their usual seasonal patterns, one can infer that a change of climate or the unavailability of food resources is affecting their migration routes.

This, he added, is among the issues that forest or nature park rangers have to observe and identify to mitigate the negative impacts on ecological health.

When it comes to the preservation of the natural world, Ros Effendi, who now observes birds to collect data for his PhD study, believes that promoting the ecotourism industry is the way to go.

“It is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is still growing.

“This is best way to encourage higher authorities and governing bodies to subsidise and promote ecotourism globally,” he said, adding that such efforts can raise awareness about the future of forests and wildlife habitats.

“I would like to see students and young advocates appreciate the flora and fauna through ecotourism. We need future generations to truly understand what biodiversity is and its importance in the daily aspects of our lives, such as food security,” he added.

He recommended watching documentaries and reading encyclopaedias as great ways for one to absorb information about nature.

For him, he said the key to his understanding, apart from using books as reference, is going out into nature so that he can observe and take notes of his findings.

“Never stop learning about nature and wildlife. The more we understand, the larger our contribution would be towards forest preservation through our actions,” he said.

Farhan, 21, a student in Selangor, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. For updates on the BRATs programme, go to

With the theme of the article in mind, carry out the following English language activities.

1.Plan an eco-tour with your friends. discuss the top three activities to undertake during this trip and reach an agreement by considering everyone’s preferences.

2.Write a 150-word story with a park ranger as the main character. Set the story in a park or forest reserve. after completion, exchange stories with your friends and provide feedback on each other’s work, highlighting the enjoyable aspects and suggesting areas

for improvement.

The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme promotes the use of English language in primary and secondary schools nationwide. For Star-NiE enquiries, email

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