Written by Oliver C. Fletcher Y6S
On the 8th of March, Year 6 got the opportunity to interview the founders of DGFC (Danau Girang Field Centre). Benoit and Milena Goosens were the interviewees and each group of students got to ask some difficult questions to them. During the interview, Benoit pointed out that these questions were a lot better than professional journalists he had spoken to not too long ago before this interview.
Which of your projects is your most challenging and why?
Benoit – My most challenging projects are probably trying to stop Poaching and Wildlife trading as well as deforestation and the environmental impact on the world. Milena – The most difficult projects for me are definitely illegal trade/trafficking. There are also challenges in camera traps with the network problems, flooding issues, covind and the setting up of cameras in general.
What was your childhood dream and do you feel you have accomplished it?
Benoit – I feel as if my dream has been accomplished because I wanted to be someone who would work alongside wildlife and learn it’s secret. Milena – I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer and trained but, for me, it was just too much. So, I fell in love with wildlife and, well, ended up like this which I think is just as good.
If you were not doing this job, what would you do instead?
Benoit – I’d like to be a crime detective agent out of all the jobs I could be. Milena – I would definitely pick an Olympic swimmer or Coach or PE teacher out of all the jobs.
What inspired you to start DGFC?
Benoit – I first came to Malaysia to set up a field centre, but only for a little bit, and fell in love with the people and nature here. As I was going on a hike, I stumbled upon a ruin of buildings and turned it into DGFC, the research and training centre.
What projects are you planning for the future to project living habitats?
Benoit – I plan to continue my work on wildlife trafficking and to research and stop the disease transfer between animals and humans. Milena – I plan to find solutions to stop animals taking in the diseases we carry as it is one of the ways animals are going extinct because it’s dangerous for their health.
What inspired you to do field work and why? Also, what would you say to young scientists who are interested?
Benoit – I didn’t have much chance to do Field Work in my studies which was not ideal for my passion. However, I was given the opportunity to go on an expedition in China to work with a Giant Panda! It was a great expedition and that made me go on every expedition I could. It was my parent’s idea to put me inside a laboratory but it was my idea to go on this path, so follow your dreams and go with it no matter what. Milena – If you keep asking questions, it’s just going to make you more interested in what you’re doing, so keep asking questions! That’s how I got to where I am now!
What animal is your main priority in conversation and what impact would it’s extinction have on the ecosystem?
We’d say the animals that need the most protection are the Pangolin and Elephant. The Pangolin eats the ants and termites so, without them, termites will just devour the trees and destroy them. Pangolins are also needed as they regulate ant populations. Elephants are also needed because they transport seeds for the trees to grow with. Every animal needs to be saved because their extinction would change the ecosystem.
How do you fund the work you do at DGFC?
We get money from neighbouring zoos and departments. We also get some from visitors, donations, grants from foundations, companies and Government departments.