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The Habitat Penang Hill

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Meet the Malaysian entrepreneur leading Penang’s eco-tourism charge

Reza Cockrell(left), Co-Founder and Director of The Habitat and Chairman of The Habitat Foundation's Executive Committee, has been instrumental in shaping The Habitat into a unique eco-destination. His vision, blending idealism with entrepreneurial acumen, underscores the sanctuary's mission.

Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Hong Kong, Cockrell's deep connection to Penang, where his mother grew up, fuels his passion for The Habitat. He describes Penang as where he finds tranquility, jokingly suggesting that founding The Habitat provided a perfect excuse to spend more time there.

His father, Dato Harry A. Cockrell(right), recognized the significance of preserving the virgin rainforest near human settlements on Penang Hill, highlighting the delicate balance required to coexist harmoniously with nature.

The construction of The Habitat adheres strictly to the principle of prioritizing nature. For instance, the Langur Way Canopy Walk was meticulously built using a post-tensioned cable bridge system with 48 cables, each 250 meters long and weighing around 300kg. The walkway comprises 230 precast concrete segments, each weighing between 500kg to 1.2 tonnes. Remarkably, the entire structure, elevated up to 40 meters above ground, was erected without heavy machinery, ensuring minimal impact on the forest floor, thanks to the ingenuity of local contractors and the hard work of manual laborers.

This commitment to environmental preservation extends beyond design to operational practices, including a self-imposed daily limit of 1,000 visitors. Originally conceived as a commercial venture, Cockrell and his team recognized the park's educational potential, prompting them to establish The Habitat Foundation. This foundation supports environmental education in schools, funds research and conservation projects at local and international universities, and backs environmental NGOs across Malaysia. The foundation's operations are sustained by profits from The Habitat's park operations, supplemented by a significant donation from the Cockrell family.

As a B Corp Certified company, they truly believe in nurturing a business in balance with nature and to have a positive impact on the communities around us. In short, they are driven to making our business a force for good.

Since opening in 2016, The Habitat has pursued a broader mission, exemplified by the Penang Hill BioBlitz 2017, involving leading biologists and specialists from Malaysia and around the globe. This initiative aimed to conduct a comprehensive biodiversity assessment of Penang Hill, leveraging advanced technologies and canopy access tools to explore previously uncharted areas. Cockrell emphasized the potential value of this information in supporting Penang Hill's nomination as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

 

Where You’ll Be

Meet Your Local

Dato’ Sri Harry Cockrell & Mr. Reza Cockrell


Reza Cockrell and his father, Dato Harry A. Cockrell.

The Cockrell family relocated to Penang Hill more than 30 years ago, drawn by its picturesque rolling hills, verdant rainforest valleys, and rich biodiversity. Their deep connection to nature inspired them to establish The Habitat, a sanctuary dedicated to nurturing a profound appreciation for biodiversity.

At The Habitat, their mission is centered around providing immersive educational experiences that highlight the importance of conservation and the preservation of natural habitats. Their dedication to safeguarding the planet for future generations is evident in their decision to direct park proceeds towards The Habitat Foundation. This foundation plays a pivotal role in supporting educational programs, conducting research initiatives, and promoting sustainable tourism practices aimed at conserving biodiversity.

Furthermore, The Habitat Foundation extends its support globally by awarding grants to researchers, fostering crucial studies that enhance our understanding of environmental challenges and inform evidence-based conservation efforts worldwide.

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