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UMS marine researchers to visit dugongs in Kampung Sim-Sim

KOTA KINABALU: It is normal for dugongs to be found in pairs such as the ones reported in the waters of Kampung Sim-Sim since last week.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) researcher Dr John Madin from its Borneo Marine Research Institute (BMRI) said this of the pair who were spotted at the shallow waters of the coasal village last weekend.

Previously, the village folk were abuzz when the marine mammal appeared there, and returned every time during high tide over the last few days. More than one dugong was spotted on one occasion.

“We will go to the village in Sandakan tomorrow, for now I cannot ascertain as of why they keep coming back to the shores there.

“While it is common for dugongs to be spotted in Sandakan waters, I was informed that was the first for the species to make an appearance at Sim-Sim.

“I have been in contact with the villagers and have asked them if there was seagrass (at the shallow waters). They could not be certain but they said some plants were visible,” he said when contacted by New Straits Times.

He was asked whether the dugongs came to that area because of food, as dugongs were known to feed on seagrass.

The Sabah Wildlife Department has told the public not to disturb the dugongs, which are listed as one of the totally protected species under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Dugongs are in the same totally protected category with Sumatran rhinoceros, orang utans, sun bears, proboscis monkeys, clouded leopards as well as green turtles and hawksbill turtles.

“Maybe the representatives from the Wildlife Department could lodge a police report so that the public will not get close to the animals and disturb them,” said John

Source: Borneo Post Online

Hundreds of insect species found in Hampuan Forest Reserve

KOTA KINABALU: Hundreds of species of insects endemic to Borneo have been recorded in the newly gazetted Hampuan Forest Reserve close to Kinabalu Park.

An estimated 115 species, including butterflies, moths and beetles, are found in this forest reserve, which is believed to also have the highest density of nocturnal insects in the area, said Forest Entomologist for the Sabah Forestry Department Dr Arthur Y.C. Chung.

There are at least 42 butterfly, 15 moth and three beetle species found in Bukit Hampuan during their survey in the area to prepare for the gazetting sometime in 2011, he added.

It is likely that there are special types of butterflies, including Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Troides brookiana), Common Birdwing (Troides helena) and Tree Nymph (Idea stolli), in the forest reserve area.

Dr Chung said insects could travel from Kinabalu Park to Hampuan Forest Reserve due to its proximity and suitable living conditions.

Apart from insects, Dr Chung said an abundance of orchid species could be found at the forest reserve as well.

Dr Chung also recommended that Bukit Hampuan Forest Reserve be connected to the nearby Kinabalu Park, by gazetting the connecting state land area into a forest reserve.

“Forest fires, illegal hunting for wild animals and orchids, and agricultural activities are among the threats to Bukit Hampuan Forest Reserve, which directly affect its insect diversity,” he added.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Elron Angin had in the recent state assembly said that Sabah was expanding the Bukit Hampuan Forest Reserve near Mount Kinabalu to ensure the survival of a butterfly species that can only be found there.

He added that the 1,243ha Bukit Hampuan forest reserve was being enlarged by another 26.3ha for this purpose.

Source: The Star

Class 1 Forest Reserves increased

THE Class 1 Forest Reserves (Protection) in Sabah has been increased by a further 2.43 percent from 1,353,677.66 hectares to 1,386,614.62 hectares following the amendment to the Forests (Constitution of Forest Reserves and Amendment) (Amendment) 2017 by the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

“The total State Forest Reserves after the dissolution, establishment and reclassification of forest reserves is 3,540,748.874 hectares which constitute an increase of about 474.66 hectares or 0.013 percent as compared to the year 2016,” said Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Ellron Angin when presenting the bill at the August House yesterday.

He also said that following the re-classification and establishment of the forest reserves, the Totally Protected Area (TPA) in Sabah had increased to 25.9 percent or 1,906,896.204 hectares as compared to only 1,874,061.544 hectares (25.46 percent) in 2016.

The enactment will come into operation on January 1, next year.

Ellron added that he was confident the government will be able to achieve 30 percent of TPAs by the year 2025 as planned.

Nevertheless, Class II Forest Reserves (Commercial) have decreased from 1,668,272.95 hectares to 1,659,899.95 hectares.

Also reduced was the Class III Forest Reserves (Domestic) which went down from 4,673 hectares to 4,656 hectares following the amendment as well as the Class V Forest Reserves (Mangrove) from 256,009.27 hectares to 232,039.29 hectares and the Class VI Forest Reserves (Virgin Jungle Reserve or VJR) which was decreased from 107,013.914 hectares to 106,911.614 hectares.

Following the amendment, five forest reserves covering 4,592 hectares were abolished while nine forest reserves covering 5,066.66 hectares were established.

At the same time, two Class II forest reserves (Commercial) of about 8,539 hectares and five Class V Forest Reserves (Mangrove) of about 23,970 hectares were reclassified to Class I Forest Reserves (Protection), he said.

Following the amendment, a total of eight hectares of the Leila Forest Reserve Class I are to be excised for a church and dam that existed before World War I and a total of 1,446 hectares of the Sugut Forest Reserve Class I are also to be excised for land swap for the existing titled lands. It was mentioned that the areas were important for wildlife corridor.

Also excised was the 3,000 hectares of the Sg Mangkuwagu Forest Reserve Class II  for village purposes as well as 17 hectares of the Tatahan Forest Reserve Class III for government purposes. The 121 hectares of the Malawaring Forest Reserve Class VI was also excised for village purposes.

Meanwhile, about 481 hectares of forests in Tenom will be constituted as Forest Reserve Class I and will be named as Gn. Lumaku Forest Reserve (Extension) Class I.

According to Ellron, the areas were important as water catchments.

Similarly, another 63.90 hectares of forests in Kalabakan would be constituted as Forest Reserve Class I and will be named as Mount Louisa Forest Reserve (Extension II) Class I as they had high conservation value.

Another 478 hectares of forests in Nabawan will also be constituted as Forest Reserve Class I and will be named as Sungai Sebungali Forest Reserve Class I as they also have high conservation values and served as water catchment area.

Also constituted as Forest Reserve Class I are the 37 hectares of forests in Tongod to be named Gunung Tinkar Forest Reserve (Extension) Class I; the 635.37 hectares of proposed water catchment area of Kolosunan, Inanam which will be named Kolosunan Forest Reserve Class I which was the only water source for the Babagon Dam; the 26.3 hectares of state land in Bukit Hampuan, Ranau which will be named Bukit Hampuan Forest Reserve (Extension II) Class I for its high conservation value and habitat for butterfly species endemic to the area; and 160.39 hectares of water catchment area of Pulau Sebatik in Tawau which will be named Pulau Sebatik Forest Reserve Class I.

The 3,166 hectares of Temporary Occupation License (TOL) will be constituted as Forest Reserve Class II and to be named as Lalampas Forest Reserve Class II while the 5,335 hectares of Sg Magkuwagu Forest Reserve Class II will be reclassified as Forest Reserve Class I and to be renamed as Sungai Mangkuwagu Forest Reserve Class I as the area has high conservation value.

Also reclassified were the 3,204 hectares of the Sg Pinangah Forest Reserve Class II which was reclassified as Forest Reserve Class I and to be renamed as Sungai Imbak Buffer Zone forest Reserve (Extension II) Class I and the 3,867 hectares of the Menumbok Forest Reserve Class V which was reclassified as Forest Reserve Class I and to be renamed as Menumbok Forest Reserve Class I.

Source: The Borneo Post

Champ the green turtle returns to sea after 3-months in rehab

The endangered turtle, nicknamed Champ, is the third rescued turtle to be fitted with a satellite prior to being released on July 29.

The satellite tagging was done under the collaboration between Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Marine Research Foundation, and Scuba Junkie.

Champ was rescued on May 7 near Pom Pom Island Resort off Semporna and was placed at the Scuba Junkie’s Mabul Turtle Rehabilitation Centre.

SWD’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez said the animal was found stuck in a fishing line, which has entangled its left flipper.

“The entangled line had caused complete loss of the flipper. We sent a team to the island to perform emergency amputation of the protruding bone and provide supportive treatment before it gets further infected.

“Our veterinarians also trained the staff on the island to do daily cleaning of the wound following the surgery,” she said, adding that the department supervised its progress.

At the rehabilitation centre, Ramirez said Champ was placed in a bigger tank to observe his ability to adapt in deeper waters and strong current.

After 12 weeks of rehabilitation treatment, veterinarians decided it was ready for release despite having only a single front flipper.

“We were gradually testing Champ’s movement and swimming skills until we saw it was completely comfortable in deeper waters. So, after observations and discussion with experts, we believe Champ will survive.

“Champ’s situation is the first amputation case and it is not common. However, this is not the first time we have issues with (fishing) nets,” stressed Ramirez.

Human fishing gear, she said represents the single greatest threat to sea turtle worldwide.

A marine biologist at the Mabul Turtle Rehabilitation Centre Cat Cassidy added turtles are particularly affected as they need to surface for breathing.

“Entanglement can prevent them from doing so and this will eventually lead to drowning,” she said.

In May, two green turtles were rescued in a weak state and were tended by the WRU personnel. The turtles were put under close observation at the rehabilitation centre before they were tagged and released on June 24.

Source: New Straits Times

More jellyfish off Sabah’s west coast due to hot spell

KOTA KINABALU: Beware if you plan to go for a swim off Sabah’s west coast – the chances of getting stung by jellyfish in those waters are high.

Typically, jellyfish season is between March and July but the prevailing hot weather has caused a large number of the marine creature to remain there.

While jellyfish can be found all year round in the waters here, their numbers appear to dramati­cally increase during those five months, research by Universiti Malaysia Sabah concluded.

The university’s Borneo Marine Research Institute senior lecturer John Madin said the po­­pulation of certain jellyfish species also increases in December and January.

“The areas to watch out for are protected bays where the water is calmer,” he said.

State Fisheries Department director Ahemad Sade cautioned beachgoers against going into the water because a sharp rise in the number of jellyfish has been noted.

On July 30, five children aged between five and 12 were stung by jellyfish while swimming off Tanjung Aru beach.

Madin also said that the sting of the two most common jellyfish species – Lobonemoides robustus and Catostylus townsendi – is not potent but that of the species Carybdea sp. and Chironex sp. could be fatal.

Source: The Star