Published 4 June 2013

‘On Borrowed Time’ wins Best Conservation Documentary at the Bird and Nature Festival Film Contest 2013

Update (October 2013): On Borrowed Time wins BBVA Foundation Award for Best Short Film Educational Scientific title at the Donana Science and Wildlife Film Festival in Spain.

Abbeville, France, 4th June 2013—‘On Borrowed Time’, a documentary on the poaching crisis in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex of northern Peninsular Malaysia produced by TRAFFIC and WWF-Malaysia, has bagged a second major film award, this time in France. 

‘On Borrowed Time’ has won the Best Conservation Documentary award at the International Wildlife Film Competition in conjunction with the Bird and Nature Festival. The award was presented to film maker Harun Rahman of Novista who worked with TRAFFIC and WWF Malaysia to produce the documentary. In 2011, the film won Best Local Film at the Malaysian Eco Film Fest. 

Although recognition of the film success is testament to its quality, the vital message it conveys is failing to be acted upon: the Malayan Tiger, the star of this documentary, continues to fall victim to poachers in alarming numbers. 

“We are ecstatic that this film is gaining such major international recognition. However, we would much rather see Malaysia’s decision-makers recognizing and ending the problems. 

“Tigers are vanishing from Malaysia at an alarming rate and little is being done to stop the loss,” said TRAFFIC’s Regional Director in South-East Asia, Dr William Schaedla. 

Since 2000, Malaysia has lost an estimated 94 wild tigers, according to the Reduced to Skin and Bones Revisited report by TRAFFIC and WWF Tigers Alive Initiative. 

A single seizure in Alor Star, Kedah last year represented a loss of at least 22 wild tigers. Malaysia’s wild Tiger population is estimated to be around 500 animals. 

“The State Governments and Federal enforcement agencies desperately need to act now. This is the message we have conveyed through the documentary. We hope the country’s decision-makers are paying attention and will accelerate enforcement action on the ground as new threats continue to emerge in these troubled forests,” said Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia, Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma.

The documentary has gained over 15,000 views on various online sites since its launch, raising the profile of poaching crisis in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex. However, increased awareness has not galvanized the political will so critical to addressing the threats to wildlife in this biodiversity hotspot.

A multiagency taskforce purpose-built to address poaching in the forested areas featured in the documentary lies dormant. Enforcement capacity remains meagre in the area, with little effort by the State authorities to ensure its prize ecotourism product does not end up an empty forest.


The Bird and Nature Festival (or Festival de l'oiseau et de la nature) was held in Abbeville, Bay of Somme in the North of France. Created in 1991, the Bird and Nature Festival takes place every spring to celebrate birds in this well-preserved area.

The Best Conservation Documentary prize was one of 7 prizes awarded by the Festival. This prize was awarded to the production which deals with wildlife: birds, mammals, marine fauna, fauna and flora more generally.

The award was given to Harun Rahman who is the founder of Novista and is the documentary maker who filmed ‘On Borrowed Time’ for WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC.

The documentary is available in three languages and can be viewed at or (English) (Bahasa Malaysia) (Mandarin)