Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Borneo Elephant Sanctuary to help protect Borneo pygmy elephants

KOTA KINABALU: This Thursday will be a historical day of sorts for Sabah when Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism Culture and Environment launches the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) at Lot 8, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sabah’s first and only Elephant Sanctuary will be a natural-habitat refuge developed to meet the needs of endangered elephants. It is designed specifically for rescued elephants that have been injured due to human and elephant conflict as well as to home orphaned baby elephants.

Here the rescued elephants/orphaned baby elephants will be cared for and whenever possible, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. BES will also become the central hub for elephant conservation and awareness for the general public and visitors to this place.

Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Datuk Laurentius Ambu explained: “The idea of developing a Borneo Elephant Sanctuary began as early as 2000 during the late Datuk Patrick @ Mahadi Andau’s tenure as
director of Sabah Wildlife Department. The vision was further continued by Sabah Wildlife Department until now.”

He further commented: “We are sincerely grateful to The Malaysian Palm Oil Council(MPOC) for being the major and prime funder of the mega conservation project and sharing Sabah Wildlife Department’s vision in Wildlife conservation.

MPOC has pledged RM5.2 million for the development of the BES from its Malaysian Palm Oil Conservation Fund and we anticipate additional funding from the Malaysian Palm Oil Industry for this once operational.”

Ambu further added: “We are equally indebted to Borneo Conservation Trust Japan and her partners Asahikawa City Municipal Government, Asahiyama Zoo, Saraya Corporation, Hunting World Japan(BCT), Tokio Marine Insurance Corporation, Kirin Beverage Corporation, Taisei Construction Corporation, Asta Corporation, IA Research Corporation, NTT Data Corporation, Teijin Corporation and Yusen Logistics Corporation for covering the construction cost of the Phase 1 of BES amounting to RM 1.6 million.

We will continue to work with our Japanese friends who have been sincerely concerned about the plight of the Borneo Elephant in Sabah and have been tirelessly fundraising for the BES program in Japan.”

Dr Toshinori Tsubouchi, Chairman of Borneo Conservation Trust Japan had this to say, “BCT Japan was established to support Sabah Wildlife Department and BCT in achieving the mission to develop the BES. BCT Japan via Sabah Wildlife Department assisted in terms of funding to develop the first phase of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary with consultative assistance of Dr Gen Bandoh, Director of Asahiyama Zoo, one of the most popular zoos in Japan”.

Tsubouchi continued by saying, “We believe the development is a symbolic achievement by collaboration of the citizens of Malaysia and Japan for realizing our future living in harmony with Borneo Elephants and other wildlife species.”

He also expressed hope that the BES project would serve as a major stepping stone for people of two nations to work together in balancing development and biodiversity conservation in the Island of Mega Diversity.

With regards to the Launch of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary, MPOC CEO, Tan Sri Yusoff Basiron commented, “It gives us great pleasure to be involved in this historic launching of the Borneo Pygmy Elephant. We congratulate the extensive efforts and planning that was triggered by the experts at Sabah Wildlife Department in pursuit of this mammoth task.