Gaya is a Malaysian island of 1,483 ha just 10 minutes off Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah. It is part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, largely owned and managed by Sabah Parks. Gaya Island has a rare intact primary forest classified under the protected Coastal Dipterocarp Forest with diverse flora and fauna. The island has therefore great potential for scientific research on both marine and terrestrial ecosystems.
Launched in October 2016, Gaya Island Resort Wildlife Centre was conceptualized and implemented by Justin Juhun, the resort’s resident naturalist, and his team. The Resort has also established in October 2013 the Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre, which was conceptualized by Scott Mayback, the resort’s resident marine biologist. In 2018, DGFC, Cardiff University and Gaya Island Resort established a long-term collaboration to carry out research and training on both marine and terrestrial ecosystems that would enhance the resort’s reputation in nature conservation.
Currently, two Professional Training Year students (Megan Hooker and Charlie Taylor) from Cardiff University are based at Gaya Island Resort under the supervision of Justin Juhun, Dr Pablo Orozco-terWengel (CU) and Dr Benoit Goossens (CU and DGFC). During their one-year placement, the students will carry out wildlife surveys, participate in mangrove and seagrass rehabilitation, monitor the resident proboscis monkey population and assist Justin’s team with their eco-friendly initiatives.