Wildlife is a big deal in Sabah. It’s the last bastion for some of the rarest species in the world. Iconic species, such as the orang utan, Bornean pygmy elephant, sun bear, Bornean banteng (forest cattle), clouded leopard and proboscis monkey, are some of the endangered species that still roam the wild in Sabah.
Another is the Sumatran rhinoceros — only three are left in captivity at the Tabin Wildlife Sanctuary in Lahad Datu. Tales of how hornbills used to bellow in rural villages, curious sambar deer foraging outside the school fence and gibbons hooting at the edge of a golf course are now just memories for many.
The animals have either “disappeared” or retreated deeper into the wild because of development and with the opening of lands for agriculture and oil palm.
But, while humans are the animals’ biggest foe, they are also their best hope for survival. The Sabah Wildlife Department under the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, for instance, has pushed for efforts to protect the wildlife and ensure that it coexists with man with as little conflict as possible.
Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun had said: “If there is one thing I want left behind in this lifetime is that I tried my best to make sure the future generation can see the wild animals that I saw.”
Many groups, too, have stepped up to the plate to do their bit to promote, educate and fight for the survival and protection of the endangered species.
Sabah’s hardline approach to reduce logging, despite the lucrative returns, have also helped buy time for the animals.
The push by the state government to preserve more areas and policy to have at least 30 per cent of the forests protected has earned much accolade, including from the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Some of the decisions, all of which were passed with little hesitation by the state assembly, has helped create corridors that help bridge fragmented forests and allow bigger areas for animals to roam.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had said: “This will be my legacy, to ensure our future generations see the lush green surroundings that is the pride of Sabah.”
Unfortunately, foreign and local opportunists, who have latched on to the wildlife theme, have come in big numbers to Sabah.
Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Protecting Sabah's wildlife legacy.