Monday, September 12, 2011

Corridor of hope for Borneo elephants at Sukau

KOTA KINABALU: A re-established forest corridor measuring 1km by 50m at Bukit Melapi at Sukau in the east coast Kinabatangan district will offer hope for the area's Borneo elephants.

The move became a reality recently with the support of two companies Syarikat Yu Kwang Development Sdn Bhd and Proboscis Lodge Bukit Melapi.

The re-establishment of the corridor will allow for the smooth movement of around 200 elephants through Lots 1, 3 and 4 of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

The corridor is part of the animals' ancestral migration route which has been disrupted in recent years due to deforestation, said Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Dr Laurentius Ambu.

He also commended the two companies for their contributions to elephant conservation at the Lower Kinabatangan.

The efforts, aimed at addressing the impact of large-scale oil palm plantation development and logging practices to wildlife species particularly the orang utan and the Borneo elephants was coordinated by the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) and SWD.

BCT conservation and research division head Raymond Alfred said habitat fragmentation was the main threat to elephant conservation in Sabah.

He said linking habitats via forest corridors would prevent the fragmentation and isolation of the elephant population.

“Population isolation makes the species more prone to genetic drift and inbreeding. It also increases the threat of human-elephant conflict within the area,” he said.

Another species facing decline at the Lower Kinabatangan is the orang utan due to the conversion of degraded forests into large-scale plantations.

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