Wednesday, August 05, 2015

RM1 mln a year spent on orang-utan conservation in Sarawak

KUCHING: Sarawak spends about RM1 million on the conservation of orang-utans each year.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Environment) Datu Len Talif Salleh who disclosed this, said the amount included salaries for conversation staff, management costs and maintaining research centres.

He said Sarawak has fewer than 2,500 orang-utans, the lowest number compared to the rest of Borneo island, with Sabah having about 15,000 and Kalimantan even more.

“Despite the relatively small number, Sarawak has put in a lot of efforts in conserving the primates,” Len told The Borneo Post yesterday.

As research has shown that there was quite an extensive presence of orang-utans in areas outside Lanjat Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and Batang Ai National Park, he said there were proposals for the conservation parks to be expanded since two years ago.

He revealed that 14,200 ha near the international border with Kalimantan had already been gazetted but the state was facing some setback in extending Batang Ai National Park as the exercise would be seen as encroachment into native customary rights (NCR) land.

“To preserve the orang-utans, we do not allow the NCR to be converted into oil palm plantations.

“While we forbid them to turn their land into plantation, we have to come up with a solution that not only serves the purpose of conserving the wildlife there but at the same time, bringing in income to the locals.

“The government is also looking into other possibilities and presently the best possibility is to develop the area into an eco-tourism destination to ensure that income will be generated for the local land owners while at the same time, we don’t harm the habitat of the orang-utans,” said Len.