Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ultra-rich and awareness to save Sabah's pygmy elephants

THE latest warning is Sabah's elephants may go the same way of the Sumatran rhino – destined for extinction.

But the heart is going to need the help of a big purse to prevent that from happening, renowned American animal behaviourist, Katerina Pirelli believes.

So what about getting ultra-rich tourists to Sabah for lecture-style eco-tours and at the same time buy up lands deemed the jumbos' critical migration routes to avert extinction?

Yes, that's precisely the idea Katerina is working on by signing a pact with Borneo Conservation Trust on November 22.

Money and awareness is critical at this juncture, says Katerina, a trainer of animals for 20 years for movies and television on just about any animal, ranging from lions, tigers, bears and kangaroos, reptiles and primates among others.

Daily Express noticed her presence at the Nov 30-31 International Workshop on the Banteng held in Le Meridien Hotel but did not know she was into this bold initiative, until Sabah Nature Club founder, Omar introduced Katerina – founder of Borneo Wildlife Preservation (BWP).

With clear diction, an articulate Katerina expounded her vision and mission.

She said: "Basically, we in Borneo Wildlife Preservation and Borneo Conservation Trust have collaborated with a Memorandum of Understanding to put our efforts together to help progress the Bornean pygmy elephant survival."

Lecture-style eco tours for ultra-rich "We are helping Borneo Conservation Trust to purchase land in fragmented forests to connect fragmented migration routes for the elephants with tree planting projects.

"We are also purchasing land to preserve some lands that are already forests for the migrating elephants along the Kinabatangan river," Katerina said.

To get it off the ground, she said she had been working with one Josephine.

"We have been travelling together throughout Sabah, trying to put together an eco tour – a lecture style eco tour geared towards the ultra-rich to come from Europe and the United States to view some of the rainforests of Borneo."

She noted: "Right now there are luxury cruise coming here on private yachts. They come to Borneo and various parts of the island, including Kota Kinabalu and different parts of Sabah.

"But my idea is to try to bring in more luxury tourists seeking luxury and to help them with conservation efforts with the pygmy elephant, along with the Orangutan and Proboscis monkey, because these three animals are all with the same migration routes."

The big idea – Conservation "The big idea is conservation and protecting these animals because I don't honestly see that poaching is decreasing," she explained her drive to arrest the decline..