What I think of the World Congress of Herpetology
The 7th World Congress of Herpetology was held at the University of British Columbia (UBC), one of the best universities in Canada, in Vancouver, the third most livable city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Livability Survey. The grid-like design and the efficient public transportation system in downtown Vancouver makes the city very visitor-friendly.
UBC is a huge and pretty campus. Some buildings were old but they were very well maintained. There were a few parks/gardens/lawns/fountains/monuments that dot the entire campus, and it gave me a feeling that I was in a city, rather than on a university campus. There’s a rose garden, an art gallery, a few museums, an aquatic centre (think swimming pools), almost everything that you’d hoped a university would have :D
The 7th World Congress of Herpetology was a huge conference that attracted more than 1,500 participants from all fields of herpetology, from more than 50 countries. There were possibly more than 600 talks, split into 14 parallel sessions in 5 days. And approximately 400 posters were presented. The parallel sessions were held concurrently in three buildings, which made it quite impossible to move from one talk to another in a different building, without missing out the first 5 minutes of the next talk :(
My talk was scheduled in the morning of the fourth day. I presented some preliminary results of our river terrapin mark-and-recapture study conducted in the Setiu River from 2009 to 2011. The title of my talk was, “Population structure and growth of the painted terrapins (Batagur borneoensis) in the Setiu River, Terengganu, Malaysia.”
My poster session was scheduled in the evening of the fifth day, and during the poster sessions, presenters were required to stand by their posters to talk about their work as well as answer any questions the other participants might have. My poster was titled, “Community participation in a river terrapin conservation project in Kemaman, Terengganu, Malaysia.” You may view the poster in my Flickr album.
One of the best things that happened to me at the conference, was the opportunity to meet and reconnect with my Canadian turtle friends, whom I had first met when I visited Nova Scotia in 2008. All of them had been very supportive of our turtle work in Malaysia, and had been constantly encouraging and supporting us :D It was really nice getting to meet them again after 4 years!
In between the parallel sessions and tea breaks (which are affectionally called “Nutrition Breaks” in our program), my co-worker and I took the opportunity to visit the museums on campus. The Beaty Biodiversity Museum is a neat little museum with an amazing collection of wet and dry specimens of all living things from birds to fishes to plants to fungi. The most attractive display was the skeletons of a blue whale, a marine mammal that measures approximately 30m in length, which is the largest known animal to have EVER existed.
We also visited the Museum of Anthropology, one of the must-visits that appear in almost all visitor brochures in Vancouver. The museum has four sections — a center hall houses a huge collection of original totem poles and structures; a small section on Buddhism (temporary exhibits); a medium-sized section on European exhibits and a large section on aboriginal handicrafts, clothing, masks, decor items, etc.
One of the most important and exciting outcomes of attending the conference, was that my co-worker and I met a potential collaborator who would be working with us in a new project! :D More information about this new partnership will be revealed in Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia once the details of the project are more or less finalized. Really exciting times ahead!
I am glad I was given the chance to attend such a prestigious conference, and I cannot thank my sponsors — CIMB Foundation and Prof. Zubaid Akbar from UKM — enough, for making this trip possible for me :D
Oh, and the good news for potential participants of the 8th World Congress of Herpetology 2016 is that it will be held in Hangzhou, China :D So, if you haven’t already known how to use a pair of chopsticks, you have 4 years to master it! :D