Clare Tan - CFANS Study Abroad Program

Term: 
Winter 2018

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I received the Go Global Grant on the ‘Thailand: Tiger Conservation and Other Vertebrate Field Methods’ study abroad program. This program, which runs over the winter break, was a truly excellent experience both personally and professionally. Of the three week duration of the program, a majority of our time was spent in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary, with the remainder spent on cultural immersion, travel, and a two-day mist netting and bird banding component. All in all, I feel that my experience truly reaffirmed my passion in wildlife and conservation, and that I am more sure of my ambitions than I was before. It was also deeply interesting to see differences and similarities between Thai culture and Malaysian culture. There were similarities in the most unexpected places that would take me by surprise, like how the Thai word “chair” shares the same meaning, words and pronunciation as that of Hokkien, a Mandarin dialect I am familiar with. 

Academically, this course was relevant to several subjects I am currently studying like GIS and ecology. I have a better grasp on the concepts and theories explained in certain classes, like how GPS units function and why occupancy surveys are important in estimating habitat use and population size. Career-wise, I personally feel that this program allowedmeagreatdealof field and practical experience. My coursemates and I learned about various field techniques such as camera trapping, occupation surveys, tracking, radio-telemetry and GPS navigation. The study abroad experience also gave me insight to what life at a research station is like- fast-paced and rewarding, with limited electricity and facilities and imminent wildlife encounters. We were also introduced to concepts involved in tiger conservation like collaring, observing cluster locations and monitoring kill sites. All in all, the program gave us a broad overview of how tiger conservation efforts are operated in Southeast Asia. I have also made many meaningful connections with the field station staff, the course instructors and my fellow coursemates. I hope to carry what I learn with me from this program throughout my career and apply my knowledge to conservation efforts in Malaysia. This grant has truly been a blessing as it greatly lightened my financial burdens and allowed me to embark on this wonderful experience.

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