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

First Digital Tourism Workshop

KOTA KINABALU: The tourism industry in Sabah must fully embrace the information and communications technology if it was to modernize and effectively reach out to today’s consumers.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that industry players can benefit from relevant training to move in tandem in terms of digital marketing and build a stronger branding for Sabah.

For this, Sabah Tourism will be organizing a Digital Tourism Workshop on January 23-24 which is open to industry players and interested business owners.

The speaker will be Damien Cook, founder and CEO of E-Tourism Frontiers who has made presentations in international forums including the World Information Summit in Tunis, the Global Experts Panel on E-Tourism, ITB (Internationale Tourismus-Börse) in Berlin as well as PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Tourism Forums. E-Tourism Frontiers has worked with South African Tourism, Indonesia Ministry of Tourism, Athens and Rhodes Tourism (Greece) to name a few, and has partnered with TripAdvisor, Facebook, YouTube, Expedia and Google.

This first ever workshop will be subsidized by Sabah Tourism Board. Early bird fee is RM500 per participant until January 12, and normal fees will be RM650. Closing date for registration is January 17.

To register, contact Francesca Lydia or call 088-232121.


Source: Borneo Post

Ocean heroes spreading marine awareness

KOTA KINABALU: Marine conservation is important and people are encouraged to become ‘ocean heroes’. The Downbelow X Rip Curl Marine Conservation Programme 2017 held here yesterday was to reiterate and bring across the message.

It was held at a dive centre at Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park near here.

This joint event between Downbelow Marine & Wildlife Adventure and Rip Curl Malaysia was aimed at raising awareness towards the global problem of marine debris.

Duty Manager Mohd Fauzi Mohd Sofian said that programme is a step towards educating the people about many issues related to the ocean.

“We aimed to raise awareness, educate and encourage action towards the global problem of marine debris and the importance of preserving our coral reefs.

“Downbelow and Rip Curl Malaysia hope to motivate people to become ocean heroes in protecting our ocean,” he said to New Sabah Times yesterday.

About 100 local and international participants took part and acquired some tips on why everyone must fight the good fight to save the ocean environment.

Some of them were marine science students from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), staffers from Hyatt Regency Kinabalu and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Kota Kinabalu (SPCA).

Beach cleaning and coral planting were also held as part of the day’s activities. About 400 corals were planted onto 200 cement blocks.

Meanwhile, Managing Director and PADI Platinum Course Director, Richard Swan, conducted the coral reef conservation awareness presentation. They learnt about coral, their importance to the environment, the threats it face and what public should or should not do as a diver, snorkeler or non-swimmer.

Speaking to the public about the importance of preserving coral reefs, Richard highlighted that coral is the life of the ocean and people should realise that coral help in maintaining our marine ecosystem and beach.

“We hope that people will know about the importance of care and preserve our precious coral reefs. “We play our roles as a part of living things by sharing our harmonious with marine.”

Participant Chrizz Diver, 31, shared his experiences in marine conservation programme saying that many people are unaware the negative impact of dumping rubbish into the sea.

“As humans living together with other inhabitants on this earth, we can contribute by recycling plastic or reducing the usage of plastics in our daily life while maintaining the cleanliness or our beaches and oceans.

“One time, I saw a turtle was badly injured from eating plastic, and it shows how badly the effect of throwing rubbish into the sea can do to the marine life… it kills them.”

The one-day programme was also joined and supported by local celebrities like Daphne Iking, MMA Fighter AJ “Pyro” Mansor and MMA Fighter Ann “Athena” Osman.

Downbelow Marine and Wildlife Adventures were doing their part to lead the public towards conservation. They have been education providers locally and internationally for the past 15 years.

The companies pledged commitment to responsible tourism and provide courses that foster appreciation, awareness and conservation of our environment of local people.


Source: New Sabah Times

‘Diving all year round in Sabah’

SEMPORNA: THE year-long “End in Sipadan” campaign organised by the Tourism and Culture Ministry will not only promote Sabah’s diving trails, but also its local dive operators, said the ministry’s state director, Ag Ahmad Zaki Abu Bakar.

“The ‘End in Sipadan’ campaign, held in collaboration with Sabah Backpackers Association, began in April and has reached its pinnacle here in Sipadan.

“Throughout the journey, we saw our local dive operators doing a great job not just for the tourism industry, but also for the conservation of our reefs,” he said during a press conference in conjunction with the closing of the campaign here recently.

He said dive operators in Mari Mari Sepanggar island here and Bum Bum Island in Semporna engaged with avid divers to build artificial reefs within respective house reefs.

“Before the campaign, the heaps of rubbish in Sepanggar island could reach an average man’s shoulder. But, dive operators have cleared the garbage and transformed the island into a diving centre.”

Ag Ahmad said dive operator Blue Fin Dive and Surf from Kudat built a community-based homestay, while ND Divers from Bum Bum island provided jobs opportunities to the locals.

As for Kudat-based Pirate Divers, its founder, Glen Hapirullah, sketched several hundred underwater maps in Malaysia, including 44 diving sites in Lahad Datu.

Ag Ahmad said diver Abdul Razak Ismail, 33, from Semporna, took underwater videos to promote the campaign, adding that one of his videos gained 14,000 views in three months.

The campaign, he said, had also helped 15 media personnel obtain diving licences to better promote the state’s diving trails.

Present at the press conference were the ministry’s Pahang director, Datuk Idrus Yahya, and Sabah Backpackers Association president Richie Lee.

“The ‘End in Sipadan’ pro-gramme is the continuation of the ministry’s ‘Start in Tioman’ campaign in Pahang, which began in 2010 and offered diving course to media personnel,” said Idrus.

He said the programme in Tioman aimed to encourage people to take up diving.

“People will not only spend money on diving, but also on activities that we have created for them before they board a plane home.

“Besides that, the programme made people appreciate nature more because once the marine ecosystem is destroyed, divers will not be able to enjoy underwater activities anymore.”

Volunteer Datin Chan Goek Kooi, from Johor, said she fully supported the campaign in Bum Bum island and in Sipadan.

“As a dive operator, it is important for me to explore dive sites before promoting them to my clients.


Source: New Straits Times

Conference on Heart of Borneo a platform for biodiversity experts

KOTA KINABALU: The 9th International Conference on Heart of Borneo (HoB) to be held here will serve as sharing platform among biodiversity experts.

In a statement, Sabah Forestry Department said this year marked 10th year of HoB’s initiatives.

The initiative is a programme formed through a joint declaration between Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia in 2007 to spur conservation efforts promoting a network of protected areas, sustainable management of forests and land uses.

“The conference will re-assess major activities that are critical to HoB and the responsibilities of stakeholders by key sectors.

“It is also to streamline and coordinate actions towards realising the HoB initiative.”

During the programme, there will be a keynote address from conservation leaders and a plenary session on “The Accomplishments of a Decade-Transboundary Management”.

The two-day programme, which begins tomorrow, will be launched by Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman.

About 900 participants from various sectors locally and internationally, including students from higher learning institutions, had been invited for the programme.

Forty-two speakers are expected to give their speeches at the conference.

There will also be a signing of eight Memoranda of Understanding between the state government, represented by Sabah Forestry Department, and various parties.

Source : New Straits Times