Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The wildlife of Lower Kinabatangan is still in great danger despite sanctuary

KINABATANGAN: Illegal logging and forest conversion are threatening the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS).

Ten years after the gazettement of the LKWS as a totally protected area, animals are still being poached and the forest where they live is destroyed.

“Within the last six months, the wildlife wardens patrolling in lower Kinabatangan have reported several acts of illegal logging and poaching. Some of these signs were recorded within Lots 5 and 6 of the LKWS, nearby Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC),” said its director, Dr Benoit Goossens.

“Evidences of illegal logging (tree stumps) and poaching (camera trap pictures of hunters) are continuously found in the Kinabatangan,” added Goossens.

“Several species have disappeared from Kinabatangan recently: rhinoceros and tembadau for example. Other species that are still found in the floodplain are also declining: orangutans, proboscis, clouded leopards are disappearing and could be gone from the area in the near future.

“In this case, Kinabatangan would lose its interest as tourism destination,” said Dr Marc Ancrenaz, Scientific Director for the NGO HUTAN.

“The major reasons for this decline are linked to forest conversion for agriculture, illegal logging and poaching. Data collected by DGFC and other scientific teams show that a lack of forest connectivity increases inbreeding and leads to extinction. What is needed to save Kinabatangan is a contiguous corridor of forest along the river,” stressed Goossens.

“On one hand we have to applaud the efforts of the government and like-minded organizations that are supporting forest restoration efforts in the area. But on the other hand these efforts are useless if illegal logging goes rampant and if more forest is converted to agriculture,” added Ancrenaz.