This post was originally published on February 2, 2015 and updated on December 23, 2021.

Episode two of the Asian Food Channel television show, Eating Wild, explored how the Malaysian palm oil industry is protecting the abundant wildlife on the island of Borneo. Wildlife explorer Nigel Marven and chef Anis Nabilah toured Malaysia’s pristine landscape together, which then inspires Nabilah’s spicy, locally sourced recipes. In this episode, Marven and Nabilah interacted with native Bornean wildlife such as flying lizards and a feisty young python. Two Vietnamese-influenced dishes are also prepared using Malaysian sustainable palm oil. The antioxidant-rich oil is grown in the same region where the wildlife thrives.

Palm oil industry-supported initiatives conserve Borneo’s ancient rain forests

The Sukau Rain Forest is located in Sabah, Malaysia on the island of Borneo’s northern tip. Brightly-colored lantern flies, horned flying lizards and Bornean pythons live in the lush vegetation of the pristine rain forest. The Malaysian palm oil industry contributes to protecting this native habitat on Asia’s largest island. Sabah is home to more than three million acres of palm plantations.

Interacting with the wildlife inspired Nabilah to create a colorful seafood dish featuring local ingredients. Her Vietnamese banana flower salad with shrimp features the exotic banana blossom, which resembles an artichoke. “To make this dish extra healthy, I’ll be using one of nature’s most potent sources of vitamin A and E, antioxidant red palm oil,” Nabilah explained. The powerful antioxidants in Malaysian sustainable palm oil lower free radicals in the body.

Bornean pygmy elephants are protected thanks to palm oil industry support

Marven and Nabilah travelled the Kinabatangan River with Sanctuary Officer Jimli Perigin to learn about the Bornean pygmy elephant’s habitat. Perigrin explained that special corridors let the elephants move easily between forests in search of food. The Malaysian palm oil industry sponsors a wildlife rescue unit which has relocated more than 30 elephants. The Malaysian palm oil industry also helps fund the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary. The hosts were in awe when they spotted a herd of elephants peacefully enjoying their meal along the road. “Malaysian people don’t want to lose their special Borneo elephants,” Marven explained. “There is lot of work being done to protect them.”

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Back in her outdoor kitchen, Nabilah prepared Vietnamese fish in caramel sauce with coconut shoot. She fried the fish in golden Malaysian sustainable palm oil. “Palm oil is not only healthier,” Nabilah explained, “it also withstands the high heat of deep frying far better than your other cooking oils.” Due to its high smoke point, Malaysian sustainable palm oil does not lose its nutrients when frying.

The Asian Food Channel
The Asian Food Channel (AFC) is the leading food and lifestyle broadcaster in Asia, broadcasting in 13 territories including Hong Kong, Malaysia, China and the Philippines. The channel is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive which also owns U.S. favorites, the Travel Channel and Food Network. AFC is the first food TV channel to broadcast pan-regionally in Asia.

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