Tuesday, February 23, 2016

100,000 visitors come to see Sabah wildlife every year

KOTA KINABALU: Businesses are encouraged to harness the opportunities to work with wildlife and make a profit at the same time by establishing educational self-financing wildlife centres in Sabah.

Assistant Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said Sabah attracted over 100,000 visitors a year who come here to see the wildlife in the State.

“Wildlife is an important attraction for the tourism industry in Sabah.

“The whole world, especially from Europe, China and Japan, come to Sabah specifically to see for themselves the animals and mammals in the wild.”

He said the mammals in Sabah were not only part of our heritage and worth preserving, they also provided a large income and many jobs in hotels, airlines and travel companies from wildlife-related tourism.

Pang said there were many opportunities for businesses to contribute to wildlife conservation and still make a profit.

For instance, the Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary near Sandakan is run as a business but also helps to preserve wildlife and to attract tourists, he said.

“Whilst the population of proboscis monkeys is declining in most parts of Borneo, at Labuk Bay the proboscis population is steadily increasing as well as attracting an increasing number of overseas tourists.

“So it is a win-win situation for all concerned,” he said when officiating at the launching of a book entitled Phillipps’ Field Guide to the Mammals of Borneo and Their Econology’, authored by Quentin Phillipps and Karen Phillipps, here yesterday. The book is published by Natural History Publications (Borneo).

In addition, he said there were large areas of mangrove habitat suitable for proboscis monkeys near the Nexus and Rasa Ria Resorts near Tuaran, where the monkeys could be re-introduced to the habitat to expand their population as well as promoting a conservation message to tourists and local visitors.

Citing another example, Pang said the recently opened Bornean Sun Bear Centre, an NGO founded by Wong Siew Te was helping to rehabilitate sun bears which have been kept illegally as pets.

“Most of their income comes from visitor’s fees of both local and international tourists.

“Not only does this project help rescue sun bears from being kept in bad conditions, it also helps educate the public about the need to protect wildlife and forest ecology.”