In the construction of every arch, engineers usually place what is known as a keystone at it’s apex to lock the stones in position. The MYCAT Secretariat’s Office (SO) does just that by bringing individual partner organisations together, thus forming the stable yet beautiful arch known as the MYCAT Working Group (WG). The MYCAT WG comprises members from the partner organisations and MYCAT SO.
MYCAT Secretariat's Office
The MYCAT Secretariat’s Office (MYCAT SO) refers to the secretariat of the alliance, which facilitates communication between the partners. Helmed by tiger biologist Dr. Kae Kawanishi, the MYCAT SO also coordinates and implements joint initiatives that range from operating the Wildlife Crime Hotline to mobilising armies of CATWalking volunteers to safeguard critical wildlife habitat.
MYCAT General Manager Dr. Kae was born in Japan but moved to the USA in 1986, where she obtained a B.S. in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University and a M.S. in Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology from Frostburg State University. After three years of rigorous fieldwork on tiger ecology in Taman Negara, Malaysia, she received a PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida in 2002. She subsequently served the Government of Malaysia – the first foreigner to join the civil service under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment – as Technical Advisor in research and conservation with DWNP until 2006. During this time, she persuaded the government to spearhead a formal alliance with NGOs to better communicate, coordinate and consolidate resources for tiger conservation, and MYCAT was born.
The MYCAT Working Group is the unique engine behind the MYCAT machine comprising representatives from MYCAT partners and MYCAT SO. It is a gathering of the best minds and muscles in conservation, bringing the perspectives of their individual organisations to the table to keep each other updated and mobilise joint conservation action. Over the years, WG members have changed, with the baton being passed to younger members of the fraternity, with the spirit of partnership stronger than ever.
Clockwise from left: Suzalinur Manja Bidin (MYCAT SO), Loretta Ann Shepherd (MYCAT SO), Kanitha Krishnasamy (TRAFFIC SEA), Elizabeth John (TRAFFIC SEA), Balu Perumal (MNS), Dr. Mark Rayyan Darmaraj (WWF-Malaysia), Shariff Mohamad (WWF-Malaysia)
Head of Partner NGOs
I. S. Shanmugaraj Subramania
Executive Director of Malaysian Nature Society
Mr. I. S. Shanmugaraj Subramaniam is the Executive Director of Malaysian Nature Society. He has served the organisation for over 20 years and has championed its Environmental Education Division from the inception of Kuala Selangor Nature Park, Selangor in 1987 until the launching of the latest Vale Eco Centre in 2015.
His extensive expertise includes botany and entomology, with a special focus in forest species and forest planting in mangroves. He has also been instrumental in the development and establishment of the Environmental Education Centre, and developing environmental community-based programmes. Mr. Shanmugaraj has led the Kelab Pencinta Alam since 1991, which has a membership of 20,000 from 400 schools.
Dr. Chris R. Shepherd
Regional Director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia
Originally from Canada, Chris R. Shepherd is the Regional Director of Southeast Asia for TRAFFIC and has called Malaysia his home for two decades. He has a PhD from Oxford Brookes University, and is impassioned about saving the region’s wildlife from the ever-increasing threat of illegal wildlife trade.
He helms a team that studies the dynamics of the illegal wildlife trade chain on a variety of species groups, with the aim of supporting more effective wildlife protection policy and practices. He is Chair of the IUCN-SSC Bear Specialist Group’s Trade Expert Team, Vice Chair on Trade of the IUCN – SSC Pangolin Specialist Group, and also member of the Cat Specialist Group.
Dr. Melvin Gumal
Director of WCS-Malaysia Program
Dr. Melvin Gumal is the Director of WCS-Malaysia Program. Armed with a PhD on bat ecology from University of Cambridge, he has been involved in conservation in Malaysia since 1988. His initial engagement included working with indigenous communities to create protected areas for Orangutans, for which he won the Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature conservation prize.
After a career in the Sarawak Forestry Department for 15 years, he became the Director of WCS-Malaysia in 2003. Together with government agencies, their work in the Endau-Rompin landscape includes biological monitoring and heavy-on-the-ground enforcement. The biological monitoring commenced in 2007 and the multi-agency enforcement effort has been ongoing since 2009 to protect tigers and other wildlife.
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WWF-Malaysia
Sophia Lim was appointed as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of WWF-Malaysia in January 2019. Sophia brings with her an in-depth understanding of consumer markets across Asia, along with an impressive track record in leadership and managerial skills.
Sophia is also a nature lover and WWF-Malaysia’s conservation work has always inspired her to rethink the value of nature. She supports WWF’s urgent and global mission for a planet where people and nature can live in harmony.