Well-known North Borneo nature explorer dies (1937)

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Source: The Pittsburgh Press, 14 January 1937

The Johnsons gained fame after they documented their journey to exotic and wild places of Africa, North Borneo and South Pacific Islands. Their expeditions that yield photographs and films on these places gave the audience in America a glimpse of people and nature that inhabits faraway places. In this news article, their friends mourned the death of Martin Johnson. He died in a California plane crash while his wife, Osa sustained injuries. Their last film project together on North Borneo was titled Borneo (1937). The film is considered Malaysia’s first ever recorded documentary on wildlife and there is now increasing interest to create awareness to Malaysians especially to Sabahans about the importance of nature and wildlife preservation through such documentary.

Pasangan Johnson menjadi terkenal setelah mereka berjaya merekodkan pengembaraan mereka ke kawasan-kawasan yang eksotik dan liar iaitu di Afrika, Borneo Utara dan kepulauan Pasifik Selatan. Pengembaraan mereka yang menghasilkan gambar dan filem berkenaan tempat-tempat sebegini memberikan penonton di Amerika Syarikat satu pandangan sepintas mengenai masyarakat dan alam semulajadi yang terdapat di kawasan-kawasan yang dijelajah. Berdasarkan petikan akhbar ini, rakan mereka berkabung atas kematian Martin Johnson. Dia terkorban dalam satu nahas udara di California. Isterinya, Osa terselamat dalam kejadian tersebut. Projek filem terakhir mereka bersama ketika di Borneo Utara bertajuk Borneo (1937). Filem ini dianggap sebagai filem dokumentari berkisar hidupan liar pertama yang direkodkan di Malaysia. Kini, minat untuk memberikan kesedaran terhadap kepentingan pemeliharaan alam sekitar dan hidupan liar kepada rakyat Malaysia terutamanya di Sabah semakin berkembang melalui filem dokumentari tersebut.

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