It takes a village…

Each month we feature one of the amazing people or organisations behind the scenes that make GCS and our projects possible. We are ever grateful to everyone who has helped us over the years and got us this far.  

Sarah Jordan

Rehabilitation Leader at Borneo GReP

Sarah Jordan was the Rehabilitation Leader at Borneo GReP, a project by GCS to help rehabilitate the endangered North Bornean Gibbon and Abbot’s Gray Gibbon.

Life at the first gibbon rehabilitation centre in Malaysian Borneo
written by Harry Rooms, July 2023

Sarah Jordan is the Rehabilitation Leader at Borneo GReP, a project by GCS to help rehabilitate the endangered North Bornean Gibbon and Abbot’s Gray Gibbon. Sarah has a degree in conservation biology, has interned with orangutans, and was trained at Malaya GReP.

The rehabilitation work at Borneo GReP focuses on promoting the gibbons’ natural behaviours through their living conditions, enrichment and feeding. This helps them physically and mentally develop more like normal, wild gibbons. Some gibbons at Borneo GReP have stereotypic or abnormal behaviours such as self-harm and these need to be significantly reduced if these primates are to be released.

When the gibbons arrived, they were skinny, but after 7 months, they have put on weight and are fluffier! They exercise more; they play, climb and swing. Before, the gibbons would only sing once or twice a month, now they sing every day. All thanks to the hard work of the Borneo GReP team.

As part of their rehabilitation, the gibbons are given a different form of enrichment everyday. The purpose of enrichment is to reduce stereotypic behaviour and encourage mental stimulation and development. The enrichment provided at Borneo GReP is assessed through a S.P.I.D.E.R. framework. Firstly, the team Set goals for each gibbon, then they Plan and Implement the enrichment, collect Data based on observations, Evaluate the effectiveness, and Redevelop if needed. Each gibbon has their own personality, behaviours, and nature which requires individual enrichment programs. Sarah and the rest of the Borneo GReP team have come up with unique and interesting enrichments over the last 7 months, including a grasshopper enrichment which is leaves weaved to form the shape of a grasshopper to encourage interest in eating insects.

Sarah loves the gibbons singing and is excited seeing them meet their milestones in their rehabilitation journeys. Being a Sabahan herself, Sarah wants fellow Sabahans to learn about the gibbons that live so close. She also believes that young students who want to get into wildlife should come and conduct research at both GRePs!

Emma Martin

Onsite & Online Volunteer

Emma has been volunteering onsite and online with GCS for a couple of years now ever since she and a friend saw a post asking for volunteers in Malaysia during the Covid pandemic.


Volunteering both Online and Onsite
written by Harry Rooms, June 2023

Emma first joined the onsite volunteer program at Malaya GReP for a month and, after only 2 weeks back in Kuala Lumpur, she came back and volunteered for another year because she loved it so much.

Emma has a lot of love for animals and the environment but she had no prior experience with primates or gibbons. One of the reasons why Emma loved volunteering at Malaya GReP was because every day was so different. The basic routine was always the same – feed the gibbons, clean the enclosure, give enrichment – but she was able to be creative, make her own fun, and enjoy her time with the other volunteers and staff. In the evenings she loved to play with the puppies, build furniture or enrichment, and swim in the river. Emma was able to learn many skills onsite such as data collection, working with bamboo, and even how to climb mangosteen trees.

Having been onsite for a whole year, Emma saw the day that three gibbons first came to Malaya GReP malnourished and saw the progress that they made. By the end of her volunteering, they were confident, singing, and brachiating all over the place. This connection with the gibbons and learning their personalities and quirks would help her volunteering online when writing the fact files for the AdoptaGibbon program.

Emma now helps with the in person events around Kuala Lumpur talking to people to help spread awareness of gibbons and the work that GCS does. She is working in a theatre in Kuala Lumpur, volunteering online, and always loves coming back to Malaya GReP.

Join us at an event in KL and meet Emma!


Head of Security

Goldie plays a huge part in the success and smooth running of Malaya GReP. She helps protect the gibbons and staff from dangers, she teaches the other dogs how to swim, hunt, and protect, and she is a constant beacon of safety.


The Queen of Malaya GReP
written by Harry Rooms, May 2023

Goldie plays a huge part in the success and smooth running of Malaya GReP. She helps protect the gibbons and staff from dangers, she teaches the other dogs how to swim, hunt, and protect, and she is a constant beacon of safety.

I was able to interview Goldie with the help of Mariani Ramli (a,k.a. Bam Arrogancia), the Founder, President, and Director of GCS. The bond between Goldie and Bam is so strong and with these two in charge it is easy to see how GCS is in safe hands (and paws).

Goldie first came to GCS in 2018 from a durian farm when the owner could no longer afford to look after her and abandoned her. She was 8 months old and pregnant! When Goldie was about to give birth she followed Bam everywhere very closely. Goldie gave birth to two puppies in the bush next to the place where Bam stopped and then when they got back to camp Goldie sat on Bam’s lap and gave birth to three more puppies! Bam used to be afraid of dogs but Goldie taught her how to love dogs. In that moment of giving birth when wildlife is usually the most protective, Goldie trusted Bam and needed her help and support.

Goldie is very fierce and protective when she needs to be but is also very relaxed when there are no dangers nearby. She can read the vibe of any new person that comes onto her patch – she will follow any suspicious humans but if she can tell you are a friend she will let you go about your business. She loves to go for a swim in the big river but hates when she has to get a bath from a human!

Kara Watson

Social Media Volunteer

Kara Watson, a passionate zookeeper from the UK, is a star volunteer at GCS. She helps managing GCS’s social media and supports the Adopt a Gibbon program.


The Star Social Media Volunteer
written by Harry Rooms, April 2023

 Kara’s love for animals and conservation led her to educate others about the illegal pet trade and the negative aspects of social media. Despite living in the UK, she dedicates her free time to support GCS’s efforts. Kara values the skills and knowledge she gains from volunteering and dreams of visiting Borneo to meet the gibbons she has connected with through the adoption program.

Kara Watson, a zookeeper from the UK, is one of the star volunteers at GCS. Kara helps monitor and update GCS’s social media pages and also helps behind the scenes with the Adopt a Gibbon program. Kara fell in love with working with animals directly and developing relationships with them when she did a husbandry internship in the USA.

Kara is very passionate about educating people about the illegal pet trade and the darker sides of social media. Working as a zookeeper allows Kara to do some of this but working with GCS allows her to work more directly with conservation efforts. The flexibility of the volunteer program means that even with a full-time job, Kara can help GCS when she has free time and all the way from the UK!

Kara says that the volunteer program can be challenging but the skills that she has develops and learning about the gibbons and the work that GCS does has been amazing. Kara said, “You can connect with people all over the world with caring about animals no matter how you do it or what your job role is”. Kara would recommend the volunteer program to anyone saying, “You don’t have to work with animals or gibbons at all to do these things, you just have to be passionate”.

Kara hopes to visit Borneo and Malaya GReP one day (hopefully this year!) as she would love to see the gibbons that she has gotten to know through the Adopt A Gibbon program in person

Interested in joining the volunteering like Kara? Visit this link here to learn more and sign up: 


Justin Dalansu

Former Chairman of Gompito

Justin, the former chairman of Gompito, a community-based organisation in Kota Belud, Sabah, played a crucial role in the set-up of the new Borneo GReP site. He helped acquire the land and fostered a positive relationship between the nearby village in Kiau and the Gibbon Conservation Society (GCS).

Justin’s key role in establishing Borneo GReP
written by Luke Robertson, March 2023

Justin, the former chairman of Gompito, a community-based organisation, played a crucial role in the set-up of the new Borneo GReP site. He helped acquire the land and fostered a positive relationship between the nearby village in Klau and the Gibbon Conservation Society (GCS).

Gompito is one of GCS’s key supporters in Sabah. Gompito is aimed at creating stronger and more positive community values, preserving culture, encouraging environmental involvement, and promoting eco-tourism in the area. GCS and Gompito are also collaborating to develop and improve eco-educational tourism in the region. As a key supporter of the GCS, Gompito’s efforts have been critical in conservation efforts in the region.

Justin’s efforts were instrumental in establishing the first-ever rehabilitation centre for gibbons in Borneo. “The people of Gompito are happy because this new rehabilitation centre will give hope for the future, in terms of attracting people to learn,” said Justin. He also expressed optimism about the centre’s ability to attract visitors and educate them about the conservation of these primates.

“We think this new gibbon rehabilitation centre is a good one for the future of our village”, said Justin. The establishment of the new rehabilitation centre is an important milestone for Borneo.

This is important for Borneo, as Borneo GReP is the first of its kind in this region, and Justin has said “After it has some more time it will be interesting as this is the first rehabilitation centre for the gibbons in Borneo, Malaysia”.

Justin facilitated the connection between villagers who could provide a food source for the gibbons and our team. Justin’s contributions to the creation of the new site in Borneo have been critical, and his organisation, Gompito, continues to play an essential role in conservation efforts in the area.

Learn about Gompito here: 

Hasrieta (Syikin) Asyikin Mohammad

Malaya GReP Project Manager

Hasrieta Asyikin Mohammad, also known as Syikin, is a city girl who took a risk and became the current project manager of Malaya GReP.

Adapting to the Jungle: A Project Manager’s Journey in Gibbon Rehabilitation
written by Khesveny Nyanaguru, February 2023

Hasrieta Asyikin Mohammad, also known as Syikin, is the current project manager of Malaya GReP, joining in 2019. Her daily work routine involves managing the on-site staff and volunteers, purchasing food for the gibbons, resourcing the necessary items for the rehabilitation project centre, compiling and tracking gibbon rehabilitation data and progress reports, and assisting the team with any help that they need at the project centre. Before joining GReP, Syikin’s interests did not include gibbons, however she wanted to explore working in a new field and was really interested in GReP being the first and only gibbon rehabilitation project in Malaysia. “I also wanted to be a part of the change in Malaysia,” she added.

Syikin struggled in the beginning as she was a city girl and was not used to working and living in the jungle environment, but eventually she adapted and she really loves her job now! “I didn’t know anything about gibbons, rehabilitation work, or animals in general when I joined GReP but now I have learned so much throughout my 3 years’ journey and I try to give my best everyday to make the rehabilitation process as smooth as possible for the gibbons,” Syikin replied when asked about her experience working in Malaya GReP.

Syikin mentioned that the team in Malaya GReP was faced with many challenges due to lack of resources but the team has been so resilient and persevered through all the challenges. When asked about Malaya GReP’s move to the new site, Syikin replied, “I am so happy that we have secured our own land and it’s a success for the team. The new land is also a better place for the gibbons and I feel happy for them as it is a closer imitation of their natural habitat.” Syikin also mentioned that the move to the new site was challenging due to complexities such as not having enough skilled people to build the enclosures and figuring out accommodation for all the staff and volunteers, and she added “We made it!,” with a spark of optimism. The main challenge of the rehabilitation project continues to be lack of staff and Syikin encourages hardworking, strong and resilient people to apply to be a part of the Malaya GReP team.

Syikin mentioned that gibbons are very similar to us. “We make sure everything is done appropriately from proper pairing, feeding, health check, data collection and other things to make the rehabilitation process faster. The rehabilitation process is not easy and it is long, but it is very important for gibbons’ survival in the wild once they are released and it is our duty to preserve and conserve the unique biodiversity of Malaysia.”

Natalie Overs

Borneo GReP Volunteer

Natalie Overs helped GCS temporarily care for and prepare a 3 year-old North Bornean Gibbon, Noir for his transfer to and rehabilitation at Borneo GReP.

Get in touch with Natalie: Instagram @overs06

Noir’s Trusted Caretaker
written by Nur Husna Sani, January 2023

Natalie Overs, a vet nurse student, helped GCS temporarily care for and prepare a 3 year-old North Bornean Gibbon, Noir for his transfer to and rehabilitation at Borneo GReP.

Several years ago, Natalie reached out to GCS president, Bam regarding the Malaya Gibbon Rehabilitation Project in Pahang. Having been in Sabah for a while, When Bam told her that GCS was planning to start another gibbon rehabilitation project in Kota Belud, Natalie immediately volunteered herself.

Noir, the youngest of the 5 gibbons at Borneo GReP, needed extra special care in his preparation to be moved to the project site. With Bam’s guidance, Natalie adjusted Noir’s diet, got him used to a feeding schedule and introduced routines similar to what he would get in Borneo GReP. In the wild, gibbons Noir’s age would have the full attention and care of both their parents. As he starts his rehabilitation, Noir will have to learn to be independent as one of the goals of proper rehabilitation is to ensure that gibbons do not rely on human for anything. Natalie has high hopes for his future.

“I really hope that he will be able fulfil the 7 criterias of rehabilitation. I have high hopes that he will. He has adapted amazingly so far since being move [to Borneo GReP] and being so young he’s got a really amazing opportunity.. I just really hope one day can be released back to the wild.” said Natalie.

“Noir is very playful, very active, very energetic. Can be quite boisterous … very naughty, very curious about everything.” she added, when asked about Noir’s character.

Natalie said she was surprised by how fast gibbons are. She also thinks that their acrobatic moves which are influenced by the anatomy of their shoulders are amazing. It is also wonderful to her that they have such beautiful singing.

Natalie wishes for more people to learn more about gibbons, understand their behaviours and their importance for the ecosystem.