Sunday, 27 April 2014
International Bornean Frog Race Festival 2014
Johor Kaki was at the International Bornean Frog Race 2014.
At first, I thought I was asked to cover an event about racing frogs just like racing horses or hounds. I was quietly wondering to myself, "How is it possible to train frogs to hop in a straight line"?
Later, when I read about the annual International Bornean Frog Race, I realised that it is actually a photo shoot of frogs. It's actually the photographers who are "racing".
The purpose of the annual International Bornean Frog Race is to increase public awareness of the importance of protecting the dwindling population of frogs and toads.
For the "race", there are categories for participants to photograph the frogs with DSLR cameras, compact cameras, and even handphones.
The third International Bornean Frog Race 2014 was held at Kubah National Park, which is about 40 minutes drive from Kuching, Sarawak's capital city. The nature reserve is an amphibian hotspot with over 60 species of frogs, toads and salamanders.
The actual "frog race" photo shoot was conducted in the dark, from 7:00pm to 9:00pm. During the afternoon, the participants were treated to a series of extremely informative and interesting workshops.
I enjoyed it very much.
Mr. Hans Hazebroek, an expert frog photographer, conducted an informative frog photography workshop for the participants. He generously shared the intricacies of camera settings and composition to get the best shot. Here, he is conducting a live demonstration using a frog model. We all learnt a great deal about frog photography from Hans Hazebroek, indeed.
Mr. Ong Jia Jet sharing with us how he rediscovered the Bornean Rainbow Toad, long thought to be extinct. Jia Jet shared how he spent days and nights deep in the wilds of Gunung Penrissen in Sarawak in search of the elusive Bornean Rainbow Toad. Jia Jet's passion and love for frogs is awe inspiring.
Jia Jet showed what a man can do for love. He even sang an ode to frogs at the end of his interesting talk.
Dr. Leong Tzi Ming from Singapore sharing about the frogs of Singapore. Dr. Leong is another amazing frog enthusiast, He could tell us everything about every frog found in Singapore, all from the top of his head!
One of the highlights of the event was the launch of the commemorative International Bornean Frog Race 2014 stamps by Prof. Indraneil Das. The Malaysian stamp features the rare "Red Hot Chili Pepper Frog" discovered by Prof. Indraneil Das from UNIMAS (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak) and his team, right here at Kubah National Park.
The organisers really cared about the well being of the frogs. All participants were required to dip their shoes in potassium permanganate solution before stepping into the frog's habitat to prevent inadvertently bringing fungus and disease to the frog population.
7:00pm. More than 170 enthusiastic participants at the flag off. Fired up by the afternoon's workshops, we can't wait to let the Bornean Frog Race begin.
The flag off.
Shooting frogs at night is a team affair.
While the participants were competing in the photo shoot out, everyone was helping each other get the best shot of the frogs. I could feel a bond between the people who may not have met one another before, but share a love for these tiny vulnerable amphibians.
What handsome frog has got everyone so intensely engrossed?
Ahh..... The frog that got all the ladies' attention was this handsome Bornean Horned Toad. The handsome toad seemed totally unfazed by all the lime light and adoration. The toad did not moved a single twitch throughout the "photo session". Perhaps, it believed that it has got the perfect camouflage :D
I was surprised at how good handphone photos can be even under extremely challenging lighting conditions.
9:00pm. Organisers with lap tops ready, eagerly waiting for the returning participants to down load their frog images for judging.
My not-too-beautiful shot of the Bornean horned frog. I had to crouch down low like a frog to get this shot.
I look forward to next year's International Bornean Frog Race - till then, I have a lot of work to do, to get my frog photography up to speed.
My flight to Kuching from Singapore was sponsored by AirAsia. AirAsia flight AK774 departs from Changi Terminal 1 at 1145am daily. AK775 departs from Kuching at 0950am daily.
AirAsia offers Red Carpet (pre-flight check-in), Hot Seats (priority boarding and extra legroom), and a nippy, easy to use Mobile app (for checking flight schedules and flight booking).
My stay in Kuching was sponsored by Tune Hotels.
Tune Hotel Kuching is clean, comfortable and good value for money. It is conveniently located next to the Kuching Waterfront and walking distance to eateries and hangouts.
My trip was supported by Sarawak Tourism Board and arrangements were made by Planet Borneo.
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