50-Year-Old Ipohite Advocating for Wildlife Conservation Crowned Mrs Asia Pacific Earth Malaysia 2022

By Mei Kuan

Rita Thong @ Nur Rita Qhaliesya Thong, a wildlife conservation advocate, was crowned Mrs Asia Pacific Earth Malaysia 2022 in May at Kuala Lumpur. 

Ipoh Echo caught up with the 50-year-old Ipohite in order to learn more about her inspirational journey.

“Mrs Asia Pacific Earth Malaysia 2022 stresses on our advocacy for the long term, rather than just a pretty face and talent. Most pageants’ advocacies end when the winner is crowned. Winning the title enables me to carry and promote my conservation advocacy for the love of Mother Earth,” the amiable Rita expressed.

She decided to retire at the age of 50 from the corporate world to focus on elephant and wildlife conservation, with the area of conservation focused at Temenggor, Perak.

Regarding her advocacy for the pageant which is on human-elephant conflict reduction, she explained, “There is a current human-elephant conflict struggle in Temenggor where the elephants are entering into the Orang Asli villages in search of food, damaging crops and houses in the process. Due to deforestation, wildlife habitats and feeding grounds are destroyed.”

“My advocacy under Eko Rimba Hijau Sdn Bhd, a company founded by my brother and I, aims to reduce these conflicts by creating and replanting a feeding corridor away from the villages, for the elephants to graze. This will act as an elephant supermarket and draw them away from the villages,” she continued.

Upcoming programmes related to her advocacy are in the pipeline as she is presently in the process of seeking approval, support and collaboration with government agencies such as the Department of Orang Asli Development, Forestry Department, Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) and Elephants, Rhinos & People (ERP).

A true definition of beauty, brains and brawn, Rita is equally active in sports, particularly athletics. For instance, she broke the W45 triple jump record in the Sabah Masters Athletics Championships 2019 and won a gold medal for the W45 triple jump in the World Masters Games 2017 in Auckland where she also competed alongside a New Zealand ex-Olympian for long jump to seize the bronze medal.

Rita in action (long jump)

Another recent beauty pageant title under her belt is Mrs Malaysia Kebaya 2021 held in December where she emerged as the first runner-up.

Here is how she juggles everything: “I ensure that my attention is spread fairly among my responsibilities by keeping a schedule that is 6-months ahead.” 

Citing her 3 children (2 girls and 1 boy) as her biggest motivation in life as she keeps moving forward, she shared, “Being a single mother in the early stages of their lives had taught me to move forward and never look back. I always believe that there is positivity in everything that happens.”

Following is her precious advice for all the ladies of all ages out there with voices in advocacy: “You are your own motivation. Look in the mirror, that is your competitor.”

Interested readers who would like to find out more about Rita’s advocacy can check out its Instagram account: hec_humanelephantconflict

Meanwhile, Rita can be reached via Facebook (Rita Thong L) or Instagram (rita_dragonova).

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