Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Biology Without Borders - Jeffrey Kong


In March of this year, we had a special student in the form of Jeffrey Kong, photo journalist from Asian Geographic magazine. Jeff fit right into the team as he tagged along with St. Joseph's Institute International students as they did survey work on their Rainforest to Reef trip in Tioman Island. Here is his account of his experiences with us. 


What is biology? Twenty years ago I learnt it is the study of living things. Twenty years later I experienced it. And it was the passionate team from EFT who brought this subject to life.

When I went on my first trip with EFT to Tioman earlier this year, I was impressed at how the EFT biologists seemed to know every plant and animal on the island like their own family. They know where to look for the lizard known as the flying dragon; they can show you a flying lemur and tell you that it is, well, not a lemur at all. They can tell you the difference between a coral and a sponge, and that a poisonous frog is not the same as a venomous frog (there is a difference!). And cool stuff like how to measure a tree without having to chop it down.

These guys also walk the talk. They don’t just give a lecture on marine conservation; they spend an entire night digging up a hundred turtle eggs with their bare hands to resettle them in a hatchery safe from poachers. Thanks to these experts, young people can appreciate how we are all linked in this great cycle of life, and how any damage to nature would invariably affect us in one way or another – a biological karma of sorts.

Biology is all around us; it’s not just a subject you learn in a classroom. All you need is to get out there: look, listen, smell, touch, taste. The folks from EFT have showed me how I can begin to make sense of the living world. Now it’s up to me to connect the dots on my own, and to share what I’ve learnt with the world.

To the EFT biologists – Bridget, Ligia, Samantha, Richard, Ling, Jack, Jana, Jen – thank you for a lesson that was 20 years overdue.

Your overaged student
Jeffrey Kong
Editor/photojournalist, Asian Geographic Magazines

P.s. Jeff - we're not sure there are any venomous frogs, but a point well made none-the-less!

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