Dr. Cedric Tan awarded Social Impact Award from the Division

February 19, 2019

For his work to influence the conservation decision to protect the habitat of clouded leopards at Ulu Muda forest, Dr. Cedric Tan has been awarded the Social Impact Award from the Mathematics, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division.

The MPLS Impact Awards aim to foster and raise awareness of impact and prepare the ground for the impact case studies that will be needed for Research Excellence Framework 2021. The Social Impact Award recognises research that has a significant impact on wider society and public policy.

During his research on clouded leopards in Peninsular Malaysia, Cedric’s team unexpectedly discovered the rare spotted form of the leopard at Ulu Muda, a virgin forest. After this discovery, he led a collaboration with 9 other researchers studying wildcats in Peninsular Malaysia to assess the protective coverage of the government-planned protected areas (collective known as the Central Forest Spine, CFS). They revealed that the condition of these forests has been deteriorating because of poor management. Their findings were published as an article and disseminated with an animation video.

Dismayed by the illegal logging and poaching that took place at Ulu Muda, Cedric led a team to create the “Saving Ulu Muda” short film that featured his team’s two discoveries and also urged the public into taking actions to protect this forest. The short films helped secure the 102K signatures to a petition calling for the protection of the Ulu Muda forest. Just one month after this petition was sent to the Federal Government, logging permits were revoked (Oct 2018).

This call for action began in 2014, and after much hard work in both research and the public engagement activities, Cedric’s team has finally managed to save this forest for the benefit of humans and wildlife.

“I am very honoured to receive this award from the division. I will continue ensuring that my research will have wide reaching impacts on policy and people.” – said Cedric

David Macdonald, WildCRU’s director said “we strive to come up with an innovation, a conservation first, at least every year, but with Cedric in our team its more like an innovation every month – his energy and inventiveness is a delight and an inspiration, and he’s such a nice man too”