Alumni: Dr Cedric Tan


Dr Cedric TAN, who graduated with B.Sc. (Hons) in Life Sciences in 2009, is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, and a lecturer at Wadham College, University of Oxford.


He develops training courses in practical wildlife conservation in Malaysia and teaches the Oxford Diploma programme in International Wildlife Conservation Practice. Dr Tan’s passion for education drives his constant pursuit of novel and exciting ways of integrating science and arts to teach and to disseminate research to non-scientists. To encourage active learning, Dr Tan creates experiential and role-playing games and educational videos that incorporate original lyrics and dance choreography.


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Dr Cedric Tan with a board game for smallholders to encourage them to undergo the Roundtable for Sustainability Palm Oil (RSPO) sustainability certification


Dr Tan is developing training methods, initially within the Diploma in International Wildlife Conservation Practice and then extending these to training programmes in Malaysia and workshops at conferences.


Animal behaviour topic for Oxford DIploma students 2016

Dr Tan's Oxford Diploma students enjoyed the board game during their class on the topic of animal behaviour


Innovative education 2016

Workshop participants had a chance to try out the game at Dr Tan's Innovative Education Workshop 2016


Dr Tan directs an ecological research study on clouded leopards. He shares his findings from his recent field trip to Ulu Muda, Peninsular Malaysia from 16 to 25 August. 


“We were outfield in Ulu Muda forest, part of the Muda Lake in Kedah, Peninsular Malaysia, for 10 days, where we retrieved photos of animals from camera traps placed there more than a year ago.


With the data, we study the spatial-temporal patterns of the clouded leopard in relation to its prey and competitors, such as the smaller marbled cat and the larger leopard.  We estimated the density of clouded leopards to be about 3 individuals per 100 square kilometres.


Unfortunately, we did not sight clouded leopards during this field trip. Not only are they rare and elusive creatures, but the forest is also threatened by logging, with many illegal visitors stealing Aga wood to make non-alcoholic perfumes for Iran and Iraq. We, did, however, have close encounters with samba deer, wild boars and a sun bear.  


First clouded leopard captured at Ulu Muda 2015

First clouded leopard sighted at Ulu Muda in 2015


We faced various challenges during our trip. Together with four forest guides, we took two hours to retrieve our capsized boat that had crushed into a fallen log. Stolen camera traps are also a problem, mostly by illegal visitors who fear being identified. The protective measures we took, such as placing signages and metal protective casing, were often futile. The only thing that worked was a self-manufactured protective covering made from wood which proved to be great camouflage. 


In the forest with guides 2016

A photo taken in the forest with the guides during one of Dr Tan's field trips


In the short term, my research team hopes to understand how habitat modifications, such as logging, affect clouded leopards’ interactions with other species. Over the long term, we would like to shed light on this under-studied species and its role in the ecosystem. 


The spotted form of the leopard is very rare in Peninsular Malaysia. So far, only one other sighting has been reported. All other sites have only the melanistic form.  


For aspiring researchers, I would like to encourage you to be patient and to take your time to discover your calling. My passion was in conservation biology during my undergraduate days. It was only mid-way during my Ph.D. that I realised I could inspire people about conservation issues through an integrative approach in the arts and education.”


Links to Dr Tan’s videos and outreach games:

Same-sex behaviour in animals:
Winner of Dance your PhD 2013 by Science (Sperm competition):
Winner of Evolution 2012 Video Contest by NESCent (National Evolution Synthesis Center) (Evolution of an alternative mating strategy):
Winner of Dance your PhD 2012 (Biology category) by Science (relatedness of prospective mates):
RSPO game:
Eco-divo game: