Cover Photo: @maya_karin/Instagram

From biologists to chemists, these ladies have devoted their lives to championing sustainability and conservation efforts in Malaysia

Dr Ravinder Kaur

A wildlife biologist, Kaur is the scientific director and co-founder of Explore Gaia, a social enterprise dedicated to hornbill conservation in Borneo. Working closely with local NGO HUTAN/KOCP and its partners, Kaur's Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary project pioneered the instalment of artificial nest boxes, which were successfully used by three different hornbills species.      

She is a member of the Helmeted Hornbill Working Group, with 15 years of experience working with helmeted hornbills, an endangered bird species in Malaysia. Kaur also has plans to work alongside other ecologists and activists to create a female coalition in Malaysia that champions conservation. In 2020, Kaur was awarded the Marsh Award for Terrestrial Conservation Leadership for her efforts.

More: Curious About Sustainability? These Malaysian Activists & Lifestyle Brands Make It Easy

Yasmin Rasyid

A marine biologist and sustainability scientist, Yasmin Rasyid founded an NGO called EcoKnights which is known for its effective community sustainability initiatives. Currently the sustainability director at Lendlease Malaysia, she is responsible for planning and implementing sustainability strategies in line with the construction and development company’s goal to become a carbon neutral business.

More: Award-Winning Architect Dr Tan Loke Mun Plants His Own Fruit Trees

Baida Hercus

Sabah-born Hercus founded the Free Tree Society in 2012 in a mission to promote a greater love and appreciation of biodiversity in the city while helping more Malaysian urbanites embrace gardening and its benefits to the environment. Despite the nationwide lockdown in 2020, the Free Tree Society worked tirelessly to plant over 400 native trees and other plants along the Pulai trail at Federal Hill. 

Sustainability plays a central part of Hercus’ daily life, from rainwater harvesting to growing her own coffee beans.

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Pua Lay Peng

A chemist and member of the Kuala Langat Environmental Action Group (Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat) Pua is an outspoken activist who led a community response to the plastic pollution that was plaguing her hometown of Jenjarom. Pua and her team were instrumental in spreading awareness about the illegal plastic waste dumpsites which caused air and water pollution in her town. Thanks to the Kuala Langat Environmental Action Group’s efforts, more than 300 illegal facilities responsible for burning and dumping plastic waste were closed.

Related: 4 Things You Didn't Know About Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve 

The inspiring story of her grassroots activism has been covered by international media platforms such as  HuffPost, and she was selected by Greenpeace to travel to New Zealand in 2018 to meet New Zealand’s Minister of Environment Eugenie Sage.

Lara Ariffin

Lara Ariffin is the president of Rimau (Tiger Protection Society of Malaysia), an NGO that works for the preservation of the Malayan Tiger, a species that’s unique to Peninsular Malaysia. Together with her husband Harun Rahman in collaboration with Yayasan Sime Darby, Lara produced a documentary series called Layar Liar that explores the beauty of Malaysia's wildlife and the efforts of those who aim to preserve it.

In a Facebook post dated March 18, 2022, Lara said of her conservation efforts: “The task ahead is so monumental and at times I feel I want to throw in the towel but I know I can't. What would our country be if we lost the Malayan tiger? But the possibility of it happening is ever so real.”

Related: How This Ecologist Is Using Technology To Preserve Malaysia's Rainforests

Maya Karin

It’s no secret that Malaysian actress Maya Karin is also a devoted environmental activist who has used her celebrity to raise awareness of environmental pollution in Malaysia for over 15 years now.

Karin volunteers her time and effort on river cleaning projects and more eco-preservation activities via her NGO, the Maya Nature Foundation. In 2019 she was appointed the ambassador Federal Territories Ministry's River of Life project. In December 2019, her video on Instagram entitled 'Cantik tak I berenang dengan sampah?' garnered over 190,000 views, opening with a sombre scene of the actress floating in water littered with plastic waste.

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