Sunday, July 21, 2013

Borneo Elephant Sanctuary begins second phase

KOTA KINABALU: A safe haven for Sabah’s threatened elephants is taking shape in the wildlife-rich Lower Kinabatangan region on Sabah’s east coast, thanks to seven Japanese groups and companies.

The first phase of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) project has seen the  construction of an elephant handling paddock, staff quarters and a storage building at a cost of some RM1.8mil.

Helping to make BES a reality is local NGO Borneo Conservation Trust whose head of conservation and research, Raymond Alfred, said that first phase of the sanctuary was due to funding from  Asahiyama Zoo, Suraya, Hunting World, Tokio Marine, NTT Data Kirin, Taiseh and Yusen Logistics.

“The endeavour is what the Japanese describes as an ‘Ongaeshi project’ which means ‘giving back to nature’,” explained Raymond.

Raymond said that work on the second phase of the BES on 25 hectares of land had already begun and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The second phase of the project is expected to cost between RM25mil and RM30mil.

“The Malaysia Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has already allocated a funding of RM5.2mil for this part of the project,” he said.

The council was also providing financial support in the preparation of the BES master plan at Lot 8 of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,’’ Raymond added.

He said  the master plan was being prepared by BCT together with the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).

Sabah Wildlife director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said that BES will be able to accommodate between 12 and 16 elephants at any one time.