Friday, September 20, 2013

Borneo Elephant classified as ‘Totally Protected’

KINABATANGAN: The State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment recognises the value of the Bornean Elephant Sanctuary (BES) as one of the strategies to support the Elephant Action Plan 2012-2016 Sabah.

“This initiative demonstrates the State Government’s commitment in the conservation of the flora and fauna in Sabah,” its Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said in his address when launching the BES here yesterday.

Masidi said the Cabinet has unanimously approved to upgrade the conservation status of the Borneo Elephant to ‘Totally Protected’ following the death of 14 innocent elephants in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve earlier this year.

“The move has given maximum protection to these species under Sabah’s Wlidlife Conservation Enactment. But more must and will be done, as it would take a very strong state government like the one we have now, to push through a few major challenges and other wildlife,” Masidi said.

He pointed out that the encroachment of the riparian reserves along major rivers by plantations and human settlements has to be given back to the wildlife, as these riparian reserves play an important role in not only acting as corridors connecting wildlife habitats, but also protect and prevent soil erosion.

“We must also relook into present areas that have been planned for agricultural and commercial timber development, which are also important and critical habitats for elephants and other wildlife. Forest and agricultural management practices should also be in concurrence with conserving Sabah’s wildlife,” Masidi said.

Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF have put the number of Bornean Elephants on the island of Borneo to not more than 2,500 individuals.

“Except for a very small population of not more than 50 elephants residing in north Kalimantan, the rest of the elephants are all in Sabah,” Laurentius said.

The BES will be to Elephants as what the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre is to Orangutans. With the ever increasing human-elephant conflict, any injured and orphaned elephants rescued will be treated, cared for and whenever possible, be nursed back and rehabilitated back to the wild, he said.