Nurzhafarina Binti Othman

Nurzhafarina Binti Othman
Elephant Conservation Officer & Research Fellow

Farina worked on captive Bornean elephants doing the first study on their morphology during her final year as a student of Conservation Biology in Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia. In 2006, before DGFC was open, she was trained in molecular genetics by the now Director of DGFC during a Darwin Initiative project on Conservation Genetics of the Bornean elephant in Sabah. During this time, she had her first opportunity to travel outside of Malaysia and this trip was the eye opener for her. For Farina, it is very important, as a Malaysian, to stand and speak for the wildlife that belong to her people and country. DGFC supports her passion by giving her the opportunities to speak and act both at the local and international level. Among the people who made it possible for her to start her career in research and conservation by believing in her potential and passion were Professor Datin Maryati Mohammed (UTHM-Malaysia), Dr Benoit Goossens (Cardiff University, DGFC), Dr, Marc Ancrenaz and Dr. Isabelle Lackman (HUTAN-KOCP), Mr Jubius Dausip (SWD-WRU), Dr Rosa Sipangkui (SWD) and Peter Riger (Houston Zoo). She always admired Cynthia Moss from Amboseli Trust for Elephants, Dr Prithiviraj Fernando and Dr Jennifer Pastorini both from Centre for Conservation and Research, and Dr Shermin de Silva from Trunks & Leaves.

In 2010, she started her part-time PhD studies at Cardiff University while working at DGFC as coordinator for elephant programs. She completed the PhD in 2017. Having the chance to observe and follow the elephant herds in the Lower Kinabatangan area, she witnessed how hard it is for the elephants to survive in a human dominated landscape. In many instances, she saw that people always misinterpret the elephants’ behavior by exaggerating the situation. She strongly feels that her role is to engage members of her community in projects to help alleviate human-elephant conflicts.

Through her work for DGFC, we have successfully increased the level protection for the Bornean elephants to the highest legally available in Sabah. She also hopes to influence and assist decision making during any land transformation process by other parties to avoid human-elephants conflicts. In this area, one of the biggest achievements by DGFC was to secure back from an oil palm company a riparian reserve along the Kinabatangan river; this action aids the movement not only for the elephants but also for other animal species.

Education: PhD on the Behaviour and Spatial Ecology of the Bornean elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) in Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. Cardiff University, 2018.


Disney Conservation Hero Award 2015

List of publications:

Othman, N. B. 2018. Behaviour and Spatial Ecology of the Bornean elephant (Elephas maximus borneensis) in Lower Kinabatangan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. PhD Thesis; School of Biosciences, Cardiff University.

Sharma, R.; Goossens, B.; Heller, R.; Rasteiro, R.; Othman, N.; Bruford, M. W.; Chikhi, L. 2018. Genetic analyses favour an ancient and natural origin of elephants on Borneo. Sci. Rep., 8, 880.

Goossens, B., Sharma, R., Othman, N., Kun-Rodrigues, C., Sakong, R., Ancrenaz, M., Ambu, L.N., Jue, N.K., O’Neill, R.J., Bruford, M.W., Chikhi, L., 2016. Habitat fragmentation and genetic diversity in natural populations of the Bornean elephant: Implications for conservation. Biol. Conserv. 196, 80–92.

Hing, S., Othman, N., Nathan, S.K.S.S., Fox, M., Fisher, M., Goossens, B., 2013. First parasitological survey of endangered Bornean elephants Elephas maximus borneensis. Endanger. Species Res. 21, 223–230.

Othman, N., Fernando, P., Yoganand, K., Ancrenaz, M., Alfred, R.J., Nathan, S., Goossens, B., 2013. Elephant conservation and mitigation of human-elephant conflict in Government of Malaysia-UNDP multiple-use forest landscapes project area in Sabah. Gajah, 39: 19 – 23.

Sharma, R., Goossens, B., Kun-Rodrigues, C., Teixeira, T., Othman, N., Boone, J.Q., Jue, N.K., Obergfell, C., O’Neill, R.J., Chikhi, L., 2012. Two Different High Throughput Sequencing Approaches Identify Thousands of De Novo Genomic Markers for the Genetically Depleted Bornean Elephant. PLoS One 7.

Othman, N., Mohamed, M., Ahmad, A.H., Nathan, S., Pierson, H. T., Goossens, B., 2008. A preliminary study on the morphometrics of the Bornean Elephant. Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation, 4 (1) : 109 – 113.