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It’s certainly to be highly commended that Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast and Hard Rock International once again stood in support of global conservation leader World Wildlife Fund (WWF) for its annual Earth Hour movement, bringing the world-renowned brand’s “Save The Planet” motto to life. Hard Rock Hotels, Cafes and Casinos around the globe participated by “going dark” for one hour.

Siti Norazliyana, Murray Aitken (GM of Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast), Peter Ong, Bonnie Yap, Sanjitpaal Singh, Yusuf Madi and Sharon Teo
Group Photo during Earth Hour

Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, in partnership with JungleWalla Desaru, has ignited the wild with its exciting new conservation initiative aimed at rewilding Desaru Coast and its surrounding forests. Building upon the foundation of music and sustainability, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast’s ‘Amplified Acoustics’ project, is focusing on two vital conservation efforts: Photography Documentation and Bioacoustics.

Irshad Mobarak from Junglewalla Desaru uncovering a unique spider species with the wildlife photographers

Wildlife Heroes Behind the Lens – Photography Documentation
Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast gathered four esteemed wildlife photographers from Malaysia in an effort to raise awareness about wildlife conservation in Desaru Coast. These award-winning photographers captured the dynamic ecosystem of Desaru Coast, with the aim to identify wildlife species and to document their habitats in various locations. This collaboration marked a pivotal moment for the resort as Malaysia’s top wildlife photographers united for a crucial cause.

On top of this, the captivating photographs captured during this expedition will not only be showcased in a dedicated exhibit at the resort but will also be sent for further research, contributing to the broader understanding and conservation efforts of Desaru Coast’s biodiversity.

The four talented local photographers were Peter Ong, Sanjitpaal Singh, Yusuf Madi and Bonnie Yap. So dedicated are these amazing individuals that despite the hot burning sun, they went with enthusiasm to try to capture some stunning pictures of the banded langurs. We learnt while we were there that these langurs may soon disappear from our forests and become extinct if we are not careful and don’t take measures to stop the decline of their population.

Earlier on a trip to Panti Forest, they woke up early to make sure they would get the best shots possible. Leeches, difficult tracks or humidity and the hot sun – nothing stops them in their mission to capture photographs that take our breaths away.

On a river boat trip to discover the wonders of the mangrove ecosystem, the tenacity and determination of these four extraordinary photographers made us truly admire them. Seeing them at work made us understand why they are experts in their field. Where we could at times hardly see a bird species or animal amongst the mangrove trees, they managed to use their long lenses and exceptional photography skills to come up with some outstanding pictures of the wildlife.

Mangroves have a fascinating ecosystem
The river boat trip to see the mangrove forest was a marvellous experience

Conversations with them were illuminating and it is a fascinating lifestyle that they have been living just for their love for photography and the environment.

Sanjitpaal Singh and his lovely wife have even had their lives put in danger while doing environmental and conservation work in the jungles. A dynamic couple, our country is fortunate to have individuals like them who give their all for our environment, wildlife and ecosystem.

Sanjitpaal Singh
White-rumped Shama – Photography by Sanjitpaal Singh

Peter Ong, who has written some wonderful books on wildlife that feature amazing photography has tons of knowledge to share about the our jungles and the flora and fauna in Malaysia. He puts his talents to good use for conservation efforts.

Peter Ong
Stork-billed Kingfisher – Photography by Peter Ong

As for Yusuf Madi, it was wonderful seeing him quietly and confidently working with commitment and later seeing the fantastic pictures he took.

Yusuf Madi
Banded Langur – Photography by Yusuf Madi

Bonnie Yap, of course, is highly talented in many ways. It’s impressive that she can capture stunning society pictures of people, do marvellous studio photography and on top of that, also take pictures of wildlife … all with hard to rival excellence.

Bonnie Yap
Long-tailed Macaque – Photography by Bonnie Yap

Indeed, all four photographers are in a top class of their own and to have them all gathered together at Hard Rock Hotel Desaru was a memorable and exciting occasion. The energy, camaraderie and dynamics was something to remember and what they did will help to make a positive impact on the conservation of wildlife on the Desaru Coast.

Bioacoustics to understand the language of the forests
This is something really fascinating! Music is at the heart of Hard Rock’s DNA, and through the Bioacoustics project, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast will delve deeper into the realm of sound by recording the natural symphony of Desaru Coast’s wilderness. This innovative approach reinforces the hotel’s commitment to music and sound and also emphasizes the importance of environmental conservation. By recording the diverse soundscapes of Desaru Coast’s ecosystems, researchers can decipher and understand the language of the forests more effectively.

A Canon Photo Contest was held in a bid to foster engagement and inspire wildlife conservation among hotel guests. Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast teamed up with Canon to provide guests with a unique chance to explore the wildlife surrounding the resort’s premises using Canon cameras, completely free of charge.

It was a wonderful chance for guests to use top quality photography equipment and develop their photography skills. Participants were invited to share three of their best photographs captured during their stay at the hotel. The photograph with the most votes received a special stay at the resort.

“We’re excited to lead the charge in this initiative, uniting individuals passionate about both music and nature to drive forward conservation endeavors that align seamlessly with our core values. Through the powerful mediums of photography documentation and bioacoustics, we believe we can make a significant difference long-term”, said Murray Aitken, General Manager of Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast.

Murray Aitken, General Manager of Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast giving an inspiring speech

If anyone gets a chance to have a chat with Murray Aitken, they will immediately be inspired by his sincerity when it comes to doing something good for the environment. We were full of admiration when we heard about the many different initiatives he has participated in and spearheaded to help in conservation efforts. Seriously, if all hotel and resort general managers think the way he does, the world will certainly be a better place to live in.

Siti Norazliyana (Yana), the resort’s Sustainability Manager, emphasized that capturing the essence of Desaru Coast’s wildlife and ecosystems through photography, will not only raise awareness but also contribute valuable data for research and conservation efforts. “Similarly,
bioacoustics allows us to delve into the intricate soundscape of the environment, providing insights into the health and dynamics of the ecosystem”.

The resort dimmed its lights for Earth Hour and embraced the darkness in a step to illuminate the path towards a brighter, greener future. Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast clearly stands ready to amplify its commitment towards environmental conservation and make a lasting impact on Desaru Coast’s biodiversity.

We really hope that Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast’s efforts, hard work and dedication to the environment and wildlife pays off. It will mean so much to Malaysians, our future generations and earth as a whole!

For more information and updates about Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast’s Earth Hour and conservation initiatives, follow @hrhdesarucoast on Instagram or @HRHDesaruCoast on Facebook.

Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is part of the globally renowned Hard Rock International brand, known for its music-centric approach to hospitality. Situated in the heart of Desaru Coast, this iconic hotel offers guests a unique blend of entertainment, luxury, and rock ‘n’ roll spirit. With world-class amenities, stylish accommodations, and a commitment to delivering exceptional guest experiences, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is a destination like no other.

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