Higher studies for Lauren

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on December 15, 2017

SCIENCE university major Lauren Pullella will take her Albany studies to the next level after becoming the first recipient to be awarded the Arjen Ryder Memorial Scholarship.

The University of Western Australia (UWA) Albany Centre student will be supported by a $5000 scholarship to take her honours thesis for conservation biology into Malaysia and study the food availability and changing diets of the indigenous Orang Asli people.

This funding was provided to Ms Pullella in memory of Arjen Ryder, an Albany man with 30 years’ experience in the sustainable agricultural sector who died with his wife on the MH17 plane crash in Ukraine in 2014.

Ms Pullella’s month-long visit to Malaysia will explore why food ‘catch’ rates are low and where the Orang Asli food source is located, as the hunter-gatherer people are suffering from malnutrition due to their hunting practices.

The 22-year-old said that in collaboration with local community members, she will be deploying motion-sensor cameras in the jungles surrounding the Orang Asli villages to collect data on the presence and abundance of species hunted for food.

“The village I will be working with is slowly beginning to introduce more western agricultural and hunting practices into their lifestyle,” Ms Pullella said.

“The research will not only contribute to a greater understanding of the sustainability of the traditional Orang Asli diet, but will also help us to understand and potentially improve the sustainability of their hunting and agricultural regimes.

“I hope that one day, the sustainable agricultural model that we are using in this research will be adapted and applied locally in the South West.”

Ms Pullella, along with her supervisors, aims to visit Malaysia mid-next year, depending on climate conditions and government permission.