Thursday, December 28, 2017

Captive breeding in wildlife conservation unpopular - Sabah Wildlife

KOTA KINABALU:  Assisted reproduction and captive breeding methods are not fashionable in wildlife conservation circles either in Sabah or globally, said Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Augustine Tuuga.

Tuuga was commenting on two wildlife experts based in Sabah in a recent article of Malay Mail Online published on December 21.

In the article, the experts expressed fears over the status of endangered wildlife species including the Sumatran rhino, banteng, elephant, sun bear, orangutan and pangolin.

“We thank them for their supportive comments and would like to expand on two of the methods that they noted, namely assisted reproduction and captive breeding. These methods are currently not fashionable in wildlife conservation circles either here or globally,” he said in a statement.

“But rare wildlife species will keep on going extinct if we do not grasp the realities and think of new and supportive means to save them.

“One important point is that setting aside protected areas is absolutely necessary, but this is never going to be enough, anywhere in the world, to save every species from eventual extinction.

“The best lands are taken up by the human population, and it is the large animals that are the most at risk.

“Another point is that many wildlife species are actually quite adaptable in terms of their habitat requirements, and we need to make some profound mental adjustments if we are to plan for the future.

“If we had 20 fertile Sumatran rhinos and 20 fertile Bornean banteng available, I would be happy to set up a joint venture with a big oil palm plantation and let the animals live and breed under the oil palms, where they could get most of their food by eating weeds.

“A third and critical point is that when a species gets down to very low numbers, the concern should not only be with reducing deaths but, more importantly, increasing birth rate,” he explained.

He said that in the Sumatran rhino case, poaching had ceased to be the main problem and after the 1960s, the main problem was insufficient births, instead.

Tuuga explained that the Sumatran rhino case also showed that about 80% of more than 20 female rhinos captured in Indonesia and Malaysia since the 1980s had significant reproductive pathology which prevented them from being able to bear a foetus.