Saturday, June 12, 2010

'Right of way' for Sabah Borneo wildlife

Tuaran: State Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun pledged to seriously push in the State Cabinet for the reconnection of fragmented forests deemed high value wildlife habitats.

"This is to make sure conservation works in Sabah, the most critical component is to reconnect the fragmented wildlife corridors," he said, when closing the two-day workshop on Species Action Plans for Orang-Utan, Elephant and Rhinoceros at Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort in Dalit Bay, Friday.

"The time to do it is now while we have all the experts here helping us because the window of opportunities may not come knocking at our door again," Masidi said.

"This is the challenge now. Even with a 55 per cent forest cover, we cannot conserve if we cannot reconnect the fragmented forests that are spread all over and without the forests and our iconic wildlife, tourists have no reason to come to Sabah," he told participants of the workshop organised by the Wildlife Department, the Bornean Rhino Alliance (Bora), Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), French NGO Hutan and WWF-Malaysia.

He said the present wildlife predicament is a legacy of a spate of land alienation in the 1980s and 90s to meet a desire for fast development, especially in agriculture, as it emerged as the biggest revenue earner.

In the process, everyone "overlooked" the need to maintain animal corridors.

"The suggestion of creating a 500m riverine buffer in wildlife-rich areas is a good idea. We'll take it as a guideline but where to get it, I would like to think it will be donated by the planters. I know forcing is bad so we would like to give them ownership of the programme out of a desire and love to do it," said Masidi.

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