Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wildlife crucial for Sabah's economy now

Kinarut: The future of wildlife conservation in the State lies with the younger generations as most of the older generations are, to put it bluntly, beyond hope.

"I mean, let's be honest about it. When you talk to the older generations, what will they say when you tell them about the importance of wildlife conservation? They will say, leave it to the young, they are old, if the wildlife is gone, it does not affect them, they will be gone soon.

"This mindset of thinking only for themselves, that is very difficult to change. But the younger generations, they are more environmentally aware and easier to educate," said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun in his World Wildlife Day speech at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park here.

Also present were Sabah Wildlife Department Director William Baya and Sabah Parks Director Dr Jamili Nais.

The tourism industry in the State, he said, brought more than RM6.3 billion into the State's coffers last year and many of the tourists came here especially to see the animals in the wild, something that they do not have in their own countries.

"You think they come here to see Sabahans? No way. They came not because we are handsome and pretty but because the Orang Utans are prettier and more handsome than us. Unfortunately, many still do not understand this concept," he said.

He conceded that while it is not his intention to make a blanket statement about the current older generation and their lack of concern about the gravity of the situation, it is best to be perfectly honest about the lack of awareness among the people.

Even though people know that it is almost certainly illegal to sell and consume wildlife meat, he said, many will still look for them perhaps because it was quite thrilling to know that what they are feasting on, was obtained in the wild.

"People always believe there is an exotic meat somewhere in some secluded restaurants. They will ask if the shop sells venison, and they do not want those farmed deer but insist on those hunted in the wild.

"It is an unfortunate truth. It hurts but is it happening. It is not possible for the Wildlife Department to keep tab of every restaurant. So the best way is to look at the future generation and hopefully they have a better attitude than us," he said.