Biodiversity Conservation Society Sarawak
Pertubuhan Konservasi Biodiversiti Sarawak
About BCSS

Past workshops involving BCSS

Since 2009 we have run 45 Boot Camps in 12 countries. 734 people from 37 countries have attended a Boot Camp at least once, many coming more than once. In addition, we have run 36 short workshops on specialist aspects of wildlife data analysis, 6 of them facilitated by international experts. We have started to build up an international team of instructors. Our partners include WCS, WWF, FFI, HarimauKita, WildTeam, UWICER, SCB, ATBC, Conservation Leadership Programme, Friends of Nature, and universities in the region. Details below; click on the thumbnails for full size pictures.

February 2020 Boot Camp at Sunway University, Kuala Lumpur

Our Boot Camp at Sunway seems to be an annual event now. Again it was fully booked, with a big group from Universiti Putra Malaysia, and many from overseas, including Cambodia, India and Indonesia.

Instructor team: Wee, Khalis, Chris, Elan, Ngumbang and Mike.

January 2020 Boot Camp at UNIMAS, Sarawak

We began 2020 by revisiting UNIMAS, where we had last run a workshop in 2013. It was amazing to think how much the Boot Camp has changed since then!

We had 23 participants, with a strong contingent of UNIMAS postgrads as well as researchers from other organizations in Sarawak, Sabah, and as far away as the Philippines.

Instructor team: Pang, Sylvia, Ngumbang and Mike.

September 2019 Boot Camp at Bumthang, Bhutan

For our third Boot Camp in Bhutan organised by UWICER we returned to their campus at Lamai Goempa, Bumthang, close to 3000m in the Himalayas. We had a full complement of 24 participants, mostly UWICER or Forest Department but with folks from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The workshop was funded by the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre.

Instructor team: Tashi Dhendup, Sherub, Ugyen Penjor, Lungten Dorji, Ngumbang, Ian and Mike.

September 2019 - Elf Camp (BCSS instructors' workshop) in Bhutan

Our first Elf Camp outside Malaysia was hosted by UWICER at their campus in Bumthang. This time we targeted potential instructors from South Asia. Most participants were from Bhutan - which is good as they have long term plans for this kind of training - and also from Nepal, Myanmar, Singapore.

We talked about how people learn, the importance of constructivism, and facilitation techniques. We focused on practical aspects of presenting Boot Camp material and sought to build confidence in our future instructors.

Instructor team: Ian Signer, Ngumbang, Mike.

August 2019 Boot Camp at Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand

SUT hosted another Thai workshop this year, with logistics provided by Sakaerat Field Station.

Participants included researchers from Sakaerat, Free the Bears, and Sintas Foundation (Indonesia), as well as postgrad students from SUT, KMUTT, Mahidol, Batambang and Naresuan Universities in Thailand, and Florida, Singapore and SE Norway Universities.

Instructor team: Ngumbang, Lukmann (Bob), Colin.

July 2019 Boot Camp at University of Mandalay, Myanmar

Our first workshop in Myanmar was at Mandalay University, run in cooperation with FFI Myanmar, WWF Myanmar and BANCA (Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association).

We had faculty and postgrads from Mandalay, Yangon and Pathein Universities and National University of Singapore; researchers from FFI, WWF and BANCA; and government staff.

Instructor team: Ngumbang, Dusit, Colin.

January 2019 Boot Camp at Sunway University, Selangor, Malaysia

In January 2019 we were back at  Sunway University. for our annual Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur. The 23 participants included 6 from universities in Philippines and others from Indonesia and Singapore. Researchers from government, WWF and WCS also came.

Instructor team: Ngumbang, Win Sim, Chris, Wee, Elan, Pang and Mike.

November 2018  Simulations and Modelling with R in Singapore

This was a 6-day workshop organised at the National University of Singapore by members of the Biology Department. We had 16 participants, mostly with some connection to NUS with a wide range of research interests beyond the classic topics of animal distribution and abundance. During the first 3 days we covered the basics of simulations in R with examples from occupancy and SECR. Then participants worked in groups on specific topics. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Win Sim and Mike.

October 2018  Boot Camp in Nepal

Our first Boot Camp in Nepal was organised by Friends of Nature Nepal with financial support from USAID funded Hariyo Ban Program through WWF Nepal. We were based at Bojinee Nagarkot Resort, on a hillside about 1 hour from Kathmandu. We had 24 participants, mostly Nepali but with folks from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and US. Instructor team: Jeevan, Ngumbang and Mike, assisted by Abid and Yadav.

September 2018  Bayes with JAGS at Bumthang, Bhutan

After Boot Camps in Bhutan in 2016 and 2017, we ran an advanced workshop in 2018, and almost all the participants had attended a Boot Camp previously. We had 16 participants: 7 from Bhutan and the rest from other SAARC countries. The workshop was hosted by UWICER with funding from the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre. Instructor team:  Ngumbang, Lukmann (Bob) and Mike.

August 2018 Boot Camp at Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand

Another Boot Camp using the excellent facilities of SUT, with the support of the Sakaerat Field Station. We had 22 participants, with a big contingent from SUT and Sakaerat and other Thai universities, but others from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Tanzania. Instructor team:  Colin, Dusit, Jeevan, Ngumbang, Shyamala and Mike.

June 2018 Boot Camp at Kuching, Malaysia, pre-ATBC meeting workshop

The ATBC held their global meeting in Kuching in July 2018, and we ran a Boot Camp as a pre-meeting activity. The venue was the Harbour View Hotel in down-town Kuching. We had 22 participants from a wide range of counties, mostly coming for the ATBC meeting, but with several from UNIMAS. Instructor team:  Chee Pheng, Colin, Joshua, Ngumbang, Pang and Mike.

March 2018 GIS with QGIS and R in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Spatial data are key to much of wildlife science, but most GIS training involves expensive proprietary software, so in this workshop we use the free QGIS program. We also see how spatial information can be prepared in QGIS and transferred to R for model fitting, and the result then imported back into QGIS. Instructor team: Fen (lead instructor), Chee Pheng, Ngumbang and Mike.

March 2018 Data Exploration and Display with R in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The raw data entered in a spreadsheet will always need checking and likely reformatting before it can be used in R or other statistical software. Some of this is best done with spreadsheet tools, some can be done in R. We spent the first two days working with participants own data sets to get them into a suitable state. Then we looked at plotting functions available in base R and ways to adjust them to make plots more informative as well as more attractive. In the final session, participants produced plots for their own data.

Instructor team: Ngumbang, Chee Pheng and Mike.

March 2018 Bayes with JAGS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

During the Boot Camp we give a grounding in the basics of Bayesian statistics, but to apply this to real biological models we need to get to grips with JAGS. So the JAGS workshop is  the next stage. For this workshop we had a small group with folks from Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Singapore as well as Malaysia. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Chee Pheng and Mike.

January 2018 Boot Camp at Sunway University, Selangor, Malaysia

Our 2018 workshop in Kuala Lumpur was hosted by Sunway University. We had over 20 participants, mostly field researchers from WCS, Pelindung and WWF together with postgrad students at Sunway.

Several of the participants in the instructors' workshop stayed on to help with the Boot Camp, so we had a strong instructor team: Ngumbang, Chris, Areth, Wee, Shyamala, Elan, Ian and Mike.

January 2018 - Elf Camp (BCSS instructors' workshop) in Kuala Lumpur

Once again we had 12 participants for the 5-day "Elf Camp", including team members from   Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal and Thailand,

The workshop covered the factors affecting learning, a framework for designing lessons, and facilitation techniques. All participants had a chance to practice teaching one of the Boot Camp units, and this led to useful ways to improve the Boot Camp. Instructor team: Ian, Ngumbang, Mike.

December 2017 Boot Camp in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

Last year we had a small group for the Kuching Boot Camp, so we were surprised to get over 20 participants this year.

The workshop was hosted by Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak and we had participants from UNIMAS, WCS, WWF, as well as UPM and Sunway University. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Sri, Mike.

September 2017 Boot Camp at Gelephu, Bhutan

Our second Boot Camp in Bhutan organised by UWICER took place at the Regional Centre for Tiger and Cats Research at Gelephu, in the lowlands at the foot of the Himalayas. Most of the participants were Bhutan government staff - UWICER or Forest Department - but 10 people from NGOs and universities in Bangladesh, Nepal and India were also invited. UWICER have a news page about the workshop. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Lukmann ("Bob") and Mike.

August 2017 Boot Camp at Suranaree University of Technology, Thailand

In August 2017 we were back in Thailand, this time for a Boot Camp organised by Suranaree University of Technology (SUT) from 28 Aug to 9 Sept. The 20 participants were mostly postgrads from SUT or KMUTT, but included participants from other universities, ZSL Thailand, and India. Support came from SUT, while Sakaerat Environmental Research Station kindly provided accommodation and meals for participants. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Akchou, and Mike.

July 2017 Bayes with JAGS in Bangkok, Thailand

Click for full size

The Conservation Ecology Program at KMUTT organised this 10-day intermediate-level workshop on using JAGS software for Bayesian modelling of wildlife data, in particular the use of hierarchical models for regression, occupancy, capture-recapture, and biological communities. The twenty participants were mostly associated with KMUTT, but included folks from other Thai universities, Bangladesh, China, Singapore, and UK. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Lukmann ("Bob"), Dusit, and Mike.

April 2017 Boot Camp at XTBG, China

In association with ATBC and the Xishuanbanna Tropical Botanical Gardens, we ran a Boot Camp as a post-event workshop after the ATBC-Asia Pacific regional meeting.

The participants were mostly based at XTBG, though from a wide range of countries and backgrounds. In addition, we had researchers from the Zoology and Botanical Institutes in Kunming. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Dusit, Win Sim and Mike.

International workshop

January 2017 - Multispecies Occupancy Modelling with Marc Kéry

This was a 6-day workshop with the first half spent reviewing Bayesian analysis of occupancy data with JAGS, and the second half devoted to Multispecies Occupancy models.

We were pleased to welcome Marc Kéry of the Swiss Ornithological Institute back to Malaysia for his second workshop with us.

December 2016 Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur

Our annual Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur took place in December 2016 instead of January 2017, as Chinese New Year fell in January. Perhaps as a result, we only had a small number of participants.

We used the facilities of Akademi Hevea again. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Elan, Win Sim, Mike.

November 2016 Boot Camp in Kuching

We were only expecting a small group for the Kuching Boot Camp, so we booked the conference room at Sama Jaya Forest Park, which can only take 16. In the end, we had to turn away a couple of people.

Most people were postgrads at UNIMAS, but staff from WCS, WWF, SFC and Borsamulu were also there. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Sylvia, Mike.

October 2016 Boot Camp in Jogjakarta, Indonesia

Our second Boot Camp in Indonesia was organised by the HarimauKita Forum with major support from WCS and FFI. It was held at the Oasis training centre on the slopes of Mount Merapi, just outside Jogjakarta.

The 19 participants were mostly field researchers with NGOs, government or industry.

As you can see from the photo, HarimauKita produced a spectacular t-shirt for the occasion. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Dusit, Mike, assisted by Areth, Iding and Wulan.

September 2016 Boot Camp in Bhutan

Our first Bhutan Boot Camp was hosted by the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE) at their main campus at Bumthang, almost 3,000m up in the Himalayas.

The group of 21 included folks from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The Bhutanese participants were government staff from protected areas or UWICE's own researchers. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Fen, Mike

July 2016 -  Graphics with R and GIS using QGIS and R in Bangkok


These were two back-to-back five-day workshops organised by the Conservation Ecology Program at KMUTT, and most participants came to both workshops. They were postgrads or lecturers from universities throughout Thailand. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Fen, Dusit, Mike.

July 2016 Boot Camp in Singapore

We ran a Boot Camp at the National University of Singapore as a post-conference event following the joint ATBC-SCB ConservationAsia conference. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Lukmann ("Bob"), Mike.

April 2016 Boot Camp at Baluran NP, Indonesia

We have had lots of Indonesians at our workshops in Malaysia, but this was our first foray into Indonesia. It was organised by Copenhagen Zoo, who have a project at Baluran National Park, at the NE tip of Java.

Participants were field researchers working with NGOs (WCS, WWF, FFI, ZSL) or National Parks. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Sylvia, Mike, assisted by Areth, Iding and Wulan.

March 2016 - Bayes with JAGS and GIS with QGIS and R in Kuala Lumpur


Back-to-back 5-day workshops were held at the ATCEN training centre in Petaling Jaya. The GIS workshop was full - a squeeze with 20 participants plus 3 trainers in ATCEN's training room. The JAGS workshop attracted only 10 people, but an important one as it was the first JAGS workshop since the revamping of the "Bayes first" Boot Camps. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Fen, Mike

January 2016 Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur

This Boot Camp had a very international flavour. Apart from lots of Malaysians and our neighbours from Indonesia and Singapore, we had participants from India, Hong Kong, Guam, Oman, and South Africa.

Instructor team: Ngumbang, Horng, Sri, Win Sim, Fen, Mike

December 2015 - Elf Camp (BCSS instructors' workshop) in Kuala Lumpur

We had 12 participants for the 5-day "Elf Camp" plus Ian Signer, Ngumbang and Mike as facilitators.

The first 2 days were devoted to learning principles, a framework for assessing lessons, and questioning techniques. Most of the time in the last 3 days was taken by practice lessons run by participants followed by feedback from the rest of the group. This brought up lots of suggestions for ways to improve the activities.

In addition to the planned curriculum, participants produced a video entitled "All about that Bayes".

November 2015 Boot Camp in Terengganu, Malaysia

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) hosted this Boot Camp. It was a big group: 24 participants, including a lot of UMT postgrads and wildlife researchers from Singapore and Sabah and Sarawak. Fortunately we had a good local team of assistant instructors. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Fen, Mike, assisted by Reuben, Sam, Sri, Wai Yee.

September 2015 Boot Camp and Simulations and Modelling with R in Khulna, Bangladesh

WildTeam invited us to Bangladesh to run these workshops as part of their USAID-funded Bagh activity.

The 21 Boot Camp participants included WildTeam staff and people from government and academia in Bangladesh, as well as from Bhutan, India and Nepal.

Khulna is the jumping-off point for tourist visits to the Sundarbans, so WildTeam kindly laid on a 4-day tour to see their study area.

Then a subset of 11 of the Boot Campers came to the 5-day Simulations workshop, where we looked mainly at the design of camera trap surveys. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Bob, Mike.

July 2015 - Simulations and Modelling with R in Bangkok, Thailand

This was a 4-day workshop organised by the Conservation Ecology Program at KMUTT just after the Boot Camp, and involving some of the same partipants.

Instructor team: Ngumbang, Sylvia, Mike.

July 2015 Boot Camp in Bangkok, Thailand

This was the second Boot Camp we ran for the Conservation Ecology Program at KMUTT. Most of the 20 participants were from KMUTT, with a few from other universities in Thailand and Myanmar.

This time we had a new "Bayes first" approach to the Boot Camp: we introduce Bayesian concepts on Day 1 and leave the usual frequentist methods until later in the workshop. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Sylvia, Mike.

International workshop

April 2015 - Asking Social Science questions in conservation with Freya St John and Aidan Keane


Dr Freya St. John of the University of Kent and Dr Aidan Keane of Edinburgh University led this workshop, focusing on the use of questionnaire surveys in relation to wildlife conservation, but also placing this research in the context of social science. A key component was the use of special methods to elicit information on sensitive or illegal activities. See here for an outline of the content.

March 2015 Boot Camp in Phnom Penh

The 2015 Annual Meeting of the ATBC Asia-Pacific Region was held in Phnom Penh, and they hosted a Boot Camp as a pre-meeting event.

 We had a full complement of 20 participants; mostly people based in Cambodia, but with people from Malaysia and Indonesia too. Instructor team: Ngumbang, Joshua, Mike.

January 2015 Graphics with R, Simulations and Modelling, and Basic Bayes in Kuala Lumpur


In January 2015 we ran three 4-day specialist workshops at the ATCEN training centre in Petaling Jaya. Twenty people took part in all, though they did not all attend all three sessions.

December 2014 Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur

This was a major gathering! We had planned a trainer-training workshop immediately before the Boot Camp, but the key resource person for that, Ian Signer, injured his knee and could not travel. So we had 7 trainee-trainers in the room, as well as 21 participants and 3 trainers.

August 2014 Boot Camp at Semenyih, Malaysia

The 2014 regional meeting for Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) was held in Malacca. We ran a post-meeting Boot Camp at the University of Nottingham Campus at Semenyih, just south of Kuala Lumpur.

This was quite an international group: mostly Malaysians, but also people from India, Thailand, Japan, UK, Bangladesh, and Philippines.

July 2014 Boot Camp in Bangkok

This was our first workshop organised by the Conservation Ecology Program at King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi, just south of Bangkok. Most of the 23 participants were KMUTT people, but also other universities in Thailand as well as government and WCS Thailand.

Our July workshops at KMUTT were to become an annual event.

International workshop

February 2014 - Introductory Bayesian population analysis using WinBUGS and JAGS with Marc Kéry

Dr Marc Kéry of the Swiss Ornithological Institute gave us a gentle introduction to the Bayesian analysis of a broad array of model classes relevant to population ecologists. The content was based on selections of his two existing books, Introduction to WinBUGS for ecologists and Bayesian population analysis co-authored with Michael Schaub, and an upcoming book being written with Andy Royle. An outline of the workshop content is here.

February 2014 Basic Bayes in Kuala Lumpur

Just before Marc Kery's BAWP workshop, we ran a 3-day Basic Bayes workshop to help people not  already familiar with the Bayesian approach and software to get up to speed. 

December 2013 Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur
November 2013 Boot Camp at Lambir NP, Sarawak
October 2013 - Simulations and Modelling with R in Kuala Lumpur
June 2013 Boot Camp in Vientiane, Lao PDR (WCS)
Jan-Feb 2013 Boot Camp in Kuching, Sarawak
January 2013 Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur
December 2012 - GIS using Quantum GIS in Kuala Lumpur
November 2012 - Graphics with R in Kuala Lumpur
November 2012 Basic Bayes in Kuala Lumpur
July 2012 Basic Bayes in Kuching, Sarawak
May 2012 - Graphics with R in Kuching, Sarawak
April 2012 - Biodiversity estimation in Kuching, Sarawak
Feb-Mar 2012 - Scientific communication in Kuching, Sarawak
International workshop

February 2012 - Species Distribution Modelling (SDM) with Jane Elith

Dr Jane Elith and Dr Joanne Potts of University of Melbourne (Australia) led our third international workshop, which featured the use of R packages to prepare data sets and generation of models using both MaxEnt and regression methods, including Boosted Regression Trees (BRT).

The 30 participants were mostly from Malaysian conservation NGOs, universities and government agencies, but with a few from Thailand and Indonesia.

An outline schedule is here.

January 2012 Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur
December 2011 Boot Camp in Kuching, Sarawak
September 2011 Boot Camp in Astana, Kazakhstan (CLP)
International workshop

March 2011 - Wildlife density estimation with Spatially Explicit Capture-Recapture (SECR) with Murray Efford

Photo (c) Charlie LamanFor our second international workshop, we invited Dr Murray Efford of the University of Otago (NZ) to join us in KL.

Murray is the author of program DENSITY and the 'secr' package for R software. He introduced the theory of SECR as well as showing participants how to use his 'products'. There was also a brief discussion of Bayesian analysis methods.

Participants were mainly from WCS and WWF Malaysia programmes, together with people from Malaysian government agencies and from Thailand and Vietnam.

Click here for an outline schedule.

January 2011 Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur
December 2010 Boot Camp in Vientiane, Lao PDR (CLP)
October 2010 Boot Camp in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia (WWF)
International workshop

March 2010 - Modeling Patterns and Dynamics of Species Occurrence with Darryl MacKenzie

For our first international workshop in Malaysia, we invited Darryl MacKenzie of Proteus Wildlife Research Consultants to present the latest methods for modeling patterns and dynamics of species occurrence in a landscape while accounting for the imperfect detection of the species. Participants were introduced to the PRESENCE software package through worked examples, as well as some analyses using OpenBUGS software.

The 25 participants were mainly from conservation NGOs (WCS and WWF) and included people from Thailand, Lao PDR, India, Indonesia and Cambodia.

An outline of the workshop is here.

January 2010 Boot Camp in Kuching, Sarawak
January 2010 Social science surveys in Kuala Lumpur
December 2009 Boot Camp in Kuala Lumpur
June 2009 Boot Camp in Kuching, Sarawak
March 2009 - Social science surveys in Kuala Lumpur
Feb-Mar 2009 Two Boot Camps in Kuching, Sarawak
January 2009 The first Boot Camp, in Kuala Lumpur