News & Updates

Enlighten yourself on sun bears at BSBCC

Animal lovers can learn more about the elusive and endangered Malayan sun bear (pic) when the visitor’s platform at the Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sabah is ready. BSBCC chief executive officer and wildlife researcher Wong Siew Te said construction of the platform has just begun and it was expected to open in June, next year.

He said little was known about the sun bear, which is the smallest bear species in the world and one of the rarest.

“The sun bear’s name comes from its distinctive golden-coloured chest patch, which resembles the sun,” he said during his talk on the bear at the Malaysian Nature Society headquarters yesterday.

He lamented that few Malaysians knew the importance of conserving this “wonderful, playful animal”, which faces extinction through illegal poaching and habitat destruction.

BSBCC is focused on rehabilitation, conservation, education, research and welfare of sun bears, he said.

Source: The Star (By ISABELLE LAI )

Climbathon: Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon – The Adventure Series To Debut In 2012

A new and exciting event called the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon – The Adventure Series will debut next year to spur Sabah’s tourism industry. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the internationally known Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon which produced many strong climbers from Malaysia and across the globe ends this year.

He said this is done to provide a wider range of tourism products in the state through recreational activities and not just sports.

“This event will be replaced by a new and more challenging series called the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon – The Adventure Series, which is 23 kilometres compared to the 21 kilometres previously.

“We will begin the event next year when the tracks are fully completed and participants no longer need to race to the peak of Mount Kinabalu,” he told reporters after attending a presentation ceremony, here Friday.

Celcom presented a RM30,000 sponsorship for the Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon taking place on Oct 22 and 23.

Masidi said the new route has long been used by local residents but needed to be improved for the safety and comfort of participants.

“The new route will cross through several villages in Kundasang. It starts at Dewan Taman Kinabalu and then into Timpohon, Masilou and other villages around Mount Kinabalu.

“Participants will also be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of villages there,” he said.

The ministry also plans to make the event an annual affair.

Source: Bernama

No tolerance for errant tourism players – Masidi

Revoking licences of eight tour agencies in the State is proof that the authority does not tolerate with any nonsense.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said it was important for the other tour agencies and companies involved in the tourism industry to take it as a warning.

“Tourism is a very competitive industry. If we want to sustain and grow, especially in Sabah, we should deliver the services that we promised to the clients.

“I do not understand why this kind of thing is happening in our industry. It is not typical of Sabahans to do that. We are the best Malaysians,” he added.

Masidi stressed it was important to look at the industry in the long run and marketing must be done in an honest manner.

He was responding to the announcement on Wednesday that Tourism Malaysia had revoked the licences of eight tour agencies in Sabah for failing to comply with the requirements under the Tourism Act 1992.

The Tourism Ministry’s office said they issued closure notices to the operators on September 8, and advised tourists and travellers not to buy any tour packages offered by these companies.

One of them, Summer Tours and Vacation Sdn Bhd, was found to have committed an offence under Section 8(1)(d) of the TIA 1992 Act by operating its business in a manner that could jeopardise public interest, tourism industry or the economy of the country, according to the statement.

The remaining seven agencies had their licences cancelled under Section 11(1) and 12(1) of the same Act after they failed to apply for renewal.

The agencies are Transborneo Traveller Sdn Bhd, Touchdown Holidays Sdn Bhd, Survival Outdoor Quest Sdn Bhd, Kinabalu Rent A Car and Tours Sdn Bhd, Discovery Borneo Adventure Sdn Bhd, Borneo Series Travel and Tours Sdn Bhd and Crocker Range Rent A Car Sdn Bhd.

The ministry also reminded those planning to travel to always check the status of the tourism operators before using their services.

Source: Borneo Post

Sabah Experiences Double-Digit Growth In Tourist Arrivals

Sabah, has for the first time, experienced a double-digit growth in tourist arrivals this year, said State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun. He said the number of tourist arrivals increased to 12 per cent as of July, contributed by countries such as China, Taiwan, Korea and Australia.

He said Sabah usually experienced a six percent increase at the highest.

“The most significant arrivals were from China with a majority of high end tourists.

“There was even one month when their arrival shot up to 42 per cent,” he told reporters after representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the launch of the Accor Hotels”” Sabah website here today.

Masidi also expects visitors from China, with about 76,200 as of July, to possibly overtake those from Korea which is currently at around 80,000.

“I recently met with the new chairman and managing director of Malaysia Airlines and suggested that the airline start direct flights between Kota Kinabalu, Beijing and Shanghai.

“We need to give MAS some time to adjust to their new management. But the feedback that I got was that it is only the issue of availability of aircraft,” he said.

He said at present, there was only the Kota Kinabalu-Hong Kong route being served.

“We expect a big influx of visitors from China if Kota Kinabalu is connected to more cities in China, with the country fast becoming a world economy, and more millionaires being created there than in any part of the world,” Masidi added.

Source: Bernama

Rehabilitation of orang-utans bears fruit

Several images of orang-utans building nests in replanted trees were captured by WWF-Malaysia in the newly restored degraded area at the northern part of Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve (NUS), Lahad Datu, where efforts to rehabilitate wildlife habitat were initiated by Sabah Forestry Department (SFD).

These efforts give hope that the wildlife population in this degraded forest will increase before long.

Datuk Sam Mannan, the director of Sabah Forestry Department, expressed contentment upon seeing that the reforestation efforts are helping the orang-utans in NUS.

He also mentioned that the best for the survival of this species is to have well-managed forests as a home.

A mixture of native tree species were planted in NUS with the aim of enhancing quality of wildlife habitat and food sources, especially for the orang-utans.

“The declaration of restoration efforts in Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve on March 15, 2006 is strategically linked to the largest endangered population of the Bornean orang-utan, subspecies Pongo pygmaeus morio, in Sabah,” said Sam.

The Ulu Segama-Malua Sustainable Forest Management, covering an area of 241,098 hectares (ha), was initiated by the state government and is jointly managed by SFD and Yayasan Sabah (YS) for the conservation and rehabilitation of habitat for endangered wildlife.

SFD has partnered WWF-Malaysia in reforestation efforts within 2,400 ha of the NUS area since 2008.

WWF-Malaysia chief technical officer (Borneo programme) Dr Rahimatsah Amat was delighted to see that the orang-utan conservation efforts in NUS were bearing fruit.

“The orang-utan is the largest arboreal (tree-living) animal in the world. They spend most of their time in trees; feeding, sheltering and travelling through the forest canopy from one tree to another. Without trees, it would be difficult for orang-utans to survive.”

Thus, his hope is to see orang-utans continue utilising the restored forest area, which has more replanted trees for food, shelter and travel.

“We’re already seeing some really exciting results from our research and monitoring team, reporting evidence of much wildlife starting to return to the restored areas of the degraded forest. Not just orang-utans but also other wildlife such as clouded leopard, sun bear and many more endangered species

There was a herd of wild Borneo pygmy elephants that passed through our reforestation site early this year but fortunately, they didn’t cause any major damage to the replanted trees. On the other hand, the elephants have left their dung at the replanted site as a tremendous natural fertiliser,” added Dr Rahimatsah.

A video clip of an orang-utan swinging on replanted trees can be viewed at WWF Malaysia’s Youtube site:

Dr Rahimatsa also stated, “We could not have done it without the collaboration from SFD and YS as well as our generous donors who have always been a part of our conservation effort.”

Funding for the reforestation in NUS is from WWF-Germany, WWF-United Kingdom, WWF-Netherlands and WWF-Japan, including from the private sectors, i.e. Adessium Foundation, Itochu Group, Marks & Spencer, Seng Heng and Aeon Jusco.

To date, 1,096 ha of degraded forest in NUS have been replanted out of the total 2,400 ha which was allocated to WWF-Malaysia for reforestation by the SFD.

In recognition of the efforts contributed by the SFD towards managing USM under the SFM model, the Ulu Segama Malua Forest Reserve was awarded the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certificate by the Scientific Certification System (SCS) at the FSC General Assembly held at Kota Kinabalu in June 2011.

The certification would mean that the home for orang-utans is better conserved.

Source: Borneo Post