Sunda pangolin now totally protected in Sabah

SANDAKAN: The Sunda pangolin has been upgraded to a totally protected species in Sabah, and joins the ranks of the Orangutan, Sun Bear and several other iconic species found in the state.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said this meant that it was forbidden to hunt, consume or sell pangolins or their parts and offenders could face the maximum penalty as provided for in the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

“The document to upgrade the protection status of pangolins has been approved by the Sabah State Cabinet,” he said in a speech at the launch of a pangolin sculpture at the Sandakan Airport here today.

The text of his speech was read out by Assistant Minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi, who launched the sculpture built from recycled polycarbonate advertising boards and used bottles.

Masidi said one of the biggest challenges in pangolin conservation was that very little was known about “this highly secretive and elusive creature”.

He said that for millions of years, pangolins have evolved and adapted to enable them to remain undetected and were often found in low densities based on camera trapping studies.

This made them rarely seen and particularly difficult to study, leading scientists to believe this species was in significant danger of extinction, he said.

Despite the existence of wildlife laws in different countries, poaching and illegal trafficking of wildlife species still persisted, he said.

“The general trend today indicates that elephants, rhinos and pangolins are the most poached species primarily for their ivory, horn and scales, respectively.

“Certainly, the threat to pangolins has become very serious in the past five years. Pangolins are a very vulnerable species and are hunted,” he said.

Masidi said pangolin scales and meat were in high demand in Asian markets for their supposedly miraculous healing properties.

He stressed that local communities could play a positive role in helping to curb the illegal wildlife trade.

On the pangolin sculpture at the airport, he said the collective effort of Future Alam Borneo, Danau Girang Field Centre and Malaysia Airports Berhad in showcasing the sculpture was important in raising awareness on wildlife in the state.

He said it was timely for the NGOs to work with Malaysia Airports to combat wildlife crime and send a message that humans and wildlife must co-exist.

He hoped that the NGOs would maintain the momentum in raising awareness on illegal wildlife trade and continue to assist enforcement efforts to curb illegal wildlife trade.

The sculpture, at the entrance to the departure hall, was built by Japson Wong of JF Production. – Bernama.

Source: Borneo Post Online

New book on Borneo stick insects launched

KOTA KINABALU: Documenting wildlife is just as important as protecting them and could contribute greatly to the effort of conserving various fauna, said Sabah Forestry Department Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Sam Mannan.

According to Sam, it was imperative to document wildlife in the state or Borneo as a whole to serve as a point of reference.

“There is magic in books and those who write books are magicians. Books are important – but I don’t believe in e-books.

“It is great that in Sabah at least, a lot of the work has been documented. This is very practical and important because, as we move further into High Conservation Value (HCV) certification, this is a good resource material that will be useful for us today and in times to come.”

He said this at the launch of ‘A Taxonomic Guide to the Stick Insects of Borneo, Volume II’ by Professor Dr Francis Seow-Choen.

He said for the Sabah Forestry Department, the book will prove very useful for researchers in identifying, documenting and highlighting the endemic species in preparing HCV reports and forest management plans in sustainable forest management.

Sam added that documenting species of fauna was important for their protection and management to ensure their survival for future generations.

“Like many other insects, stick insects are truly fascinating. Such bizarre and captivating creatures in Borneo have drawn the attention of many nature lovers and tourists from around the world and this promotes nature tourism and contributes towards the state’s economy.

“It also indicates the high rate of unexplored diversity of Bornean stick insects. All these specimens are vital as taxonomic and biodiversity references for both local and international researchers, as well as university students,” he disclosed.

Sam also said that the Sabah Forestry Department will continue with certification, hopefully adding another two forests to the certified list of reserved forests this year, in meeting the target of certifying at least one reserved forest per year.

The department will also be focusing on reducing impact logging and engagement with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), emphasising the importance of collaboration, he revealed.

“Last time, we thought we could work on our own and make it. But it doesn’t work like that; we must get everybody who is interested in the particular subject on our team,” Sam said.

Earlier, Natural History Publications (Borneo) managing director Datuk CL Chan commended Dr Francis’ efforts in seeing the book to fruition.

This kind of documentation took painstaking study and mastery of a subject, he pointed out, in which the specialist then becomes uniquely aware of the diversity of form and the specialisations and common features of various groups that may be recognised.

“It was most remarkable when Dr Francis crafted the first volume, which documented 15 new genera and 52 new species for the first time. The discovery and publication of so many novelties in a biological group, for a single territory, represented an iconic moment in science.

“Now, in just a short period of 12 months, Dr Francis has made even more intensive collecting trips to Sabah, this time concentrating on the phasmid fauna of Mount Trus Madi.

“The author has not only done science a great service in providing these results, but also allowed naturalists easy identification of the species portrayed as all the new taxa are described and illustrated with high-quality photographs,” he said.

Chan also revealed that Natural History Publications (Borneo) has been appointed as the publisher of Dr Francis’ upcoming book ‘Stick Insects of Sumatra’, which he is well into completing at the manuscript stage.

‘A Taxonomic Guide to the Stick Insects of Borneo, Volume II’ continues to open new trails to a better understanding of Bornean stick insect fauna the author has concentrated his efforts on the stick insects of Mount Trus Madi, besides studying the drawers of the entomological collections of Kinabalu Park and the Forest Research Centre in Sepilok.

Volume II lists 373 Bornean species or subspecies from 92 genera, with descriptions of four new genera, one genus new to Borneo, 37 new species, four new name combinations, three new synonyms, two wrong synonyms and nine descriptions of the previously unknown sex of known species.


Source: Borneo Post

Female Sumatran rhinoceros diagnosed with tumour in uterus

KOTA KINABALU: The country’s last female Sumatran rhinoceros is facing a serious health problem.

Sabah Wildlife department director Augustine Tuuga said the rhino, named Iman, is having tumour in her uterus.

“Usually, this can be treated with medication and supplements.

“But Iman is refusing to leave her mud wallow and she has hardly eaten, so the usual treatment has not been possible,” he said in a statement, adding that she charges at anyone who goes near.

Augustine said the bleeding from her uterus started three days ago.

“It is believed that one of the larger tumours might have ruptured and is causing pain and bleeding.

“Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) veterinarians are constantly monitoring Iman along with the keepers. We are hoping for the best and will keep the public informed,” he said.

Iman was the last wild rhino found in Malaysia. She was captured in Danum Valley and transported to Tabin Wildlife in Lahad Datu in March 2014.

Despite being diagnosed with severe fibroids in the uterus, she still produced eggs for the in-vitro fertilisation attempts.

Iman and another male rhino Kertam are kept at Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu under the care of BORA.

Augustine said Tabin has received nearly six meters of rainfall this year making Iman’s paddock a quagmire and making things even more difficult.

The country lost another female rhino, Puntung, about six months ago.

Puntung was euthanised on June 4 after suffering three months from skin cancer.


Source: New Straits Times

Over 450 runners for Borneo Bird Run

SANDAKAN: More than 450 people yesterday took part in the second edition of the Borneo Bird Run that promoted bird conservation and bird watching.

The 7km run around the Rainforest Discovery Centre here was flagged off by Chief Conservator of Forests, Datuk Sam Mannan.

The participants came from Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Beluran and Kota Kinabalu.

Borneo Birds Club chairman Gary Albert said the activity, which was supported by the Forestry Department and the Sabah Tourism Board, was also to promote a healthy lifestyle, besides the conservation aspect.

The men’s open category was won by Saibee Mohd. In second and third place respectively were Addy Zonius and Azrul Bombo. Christina Donale won the women’s open category while On bte Paris was in second place and Vidia Lee was in third.

In the men’s veteran category, first place was won by Alexander Lee, while Kirin Lumpakis and Ibra Sirah were in second and third respectively. Sahria Daraup won the women’s veteran category, followed by Thoen Sim Yee in second place, and Wong Kim Lan in third.


Source: New Sabah Times

Safeguarding the Corridor of Life

GREETED by the sweet sound of nature, Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) transports you to a different world. Surrounded with lush greenery, you might wonder how this virgin rainforest remained unscathed throughout the years.With every step you take into this tropical treasure, it unveils secrets that will lure you deeper into its grounds.

Dubbed as the ‘Living Pharmacy’ in the heart of Sabah, ICCA is located in the central interior of Sabah just immediately to the north of Maliau Basin Conservation Area. The canyon is a 27,599 ha complex of rainforest habitats within a 25 km long valley, hemmed in on three sides by sandstone ridges.

At their highest point, the ridges exceed 1,000m with the highest reaching 1,128m.

ICCA is one of the largest contiguous pristine lowland dipterocarp forest left in Sabah.

According to Yayasan Sabah Director Datuk Sapawi bin Haji Ahmad, ICCA is named a botanical gene bank.

“ICCA has rich plant biodiversity with over 600 species recorded to date. ICCA is also home to mammal species with both lowland and montane species present in a limited geographic area.

“Among them, Orang utan, Proboscis monkey, Banteng and Borneo Pygmy elephant,” said Sapawi.

He also said Imbak Canyon was formerly part of the forest concession assigned to Yayasan Sabah Group.

“In 2003, Yayasan Sabah Group voluntarily designated ICCA as a conservation area for purposes of research, education, training and nature recreation.

“Six years later, in 2009, ICCA was upgraded to Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve by the Sabah State Legislative Assembly,” Sapawi said.

“The day-to-day management of ICCA is carried out by Yayasan Sabah Group on behalf of an inter-agency Imbak Canyon Management Committee which also includes Sabah Forestry Department, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and several other agencies.

“ICCA is conserved both for its function as a gene – bank as well as in helping to protect the quality of our river system.”

The grounds for the protection of this unique area include biodiversity, particularly botanical diversity; geological including the scenic amenity associated with the site; and the neighbouring indigenous communities and the unique range of forest knowledge they possess – which as yet remains to be fully documented.

“The key conservation values for ICCA among others are its high biodiversity and endemism; in situ conservation of threatened species; undiscovered species; undisturbed functioning ecosystems; corridor of life and climate change refuge; monitoring climate change; natural monument and scenic amenity; basic resource needs for neighbouring indigenous communities; cultural and heritage values; and bio-prospecting reserve,” he said.

ICCA provides protection for a series of ecosystems ranging from lowland rainforest to lower montane forest – all are found within a relatively small geographical range – and provide a home to high biodiversity with early evidence of high endemism.

Many species found within the ecosystems afforded protection by ICCA are endangered and vulnerable.

Many species have also yet to be discovered and described as less than 50pc of ICCA’s 27,599ha has been explored to date.

“In addressing the ecosystems in ICCA, they are undisturbed and important in terms of maintaining and securing evolutionary processes – this has particular relevance given the ongoing climate change.”

ICCA is also a corridor of life and climate change refuge where it provides functional protection for part of the upper Kinabatangan catchment and compliments the conservation initiatives in the lower Kinabatangan i.e. to maintain a “corridor of life” along the river length through to the Sulu Sea. As such, protection is provided from coastal and lowland rainforests through to the montane forests in ICCA – and indeed MBCA,” said Sapawi.

During the most recent glacial episodes, central Borneo, including Sabah, provided sanctuary (refuge) for many species of flora and fauna. ICCA maintains the potential to provide a key site for refuge from impacts during contemporary and future climate change.

Species may move inland and upwards along an altitudinal gradient. ICCA also provides an important ‘stepping stone’ between lowland and montane forests, when viewed in terms of the larger conservation landscape.

The isolated and pristine nature of the site also makes it ideal for monitoring climate along a gradient of altitudes.

“As part of a landscape – combined with the ecosystems provided protection – ICCA is a feature of national and international importance and outstanding conservation value and on its own, qualifies to be considered a natural monument,” Sapawi added.

ICCA also provides scenic amenity within the broader conservation and national landscape.

Waterfalls within ICCA also provide local scenic amenity.

In addition, the protected area maintains the potential to satisfy the basic natural resource needs of the neighbouring communities – if the connection and intervening forest cover is maintained.

Similarly, ICCA provides protection for a range of cultural and heritage values, including ethno-botanical, for the neighbouring communities. Besides this, the protection provided by ICCA and its management areas secures the forest for bio-prospecting now and in the future – thus setting the scene for biodiversity conservation through bio-prospecting potentially with local community partners.


Source: Daily Express