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Malaysia, Indonesia to discuss Sumatran Rhino Conservation

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia and Indonesia will hold meetings on efforts to save the Sumatran rhino.

The Sabah Forestry Department said a Technical Experts Meeting would be held on Wednesday and Friday in Jakarta to provide technical recommendations on rhinoceros conservation to both governments.

Malaysia, during the recently-concluded 11th Heart of Borneo (HoB) Trilateral Meeting in Tarakan, Indonesia, had proposed a high-level bilateral meeting on Sumatran rhino conservation to be held on Dec 4 and 5.

In Malaysia, only two of the rhinos — a male and a female — are in captivity at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Tawau. A female Sumatran rhino died of skin cancer several months ago.

Wildlife experts estimate that there were only about 20 Sumatran rhinos left in Kalimantan and southern Sumatra.

The Sabah Wildlife Department had been keen to collaborate with its Indonesian counterparts on in-vitro fertilisation for the endangered species.

Malaysia had tabled a proposal on the “Transboundary Conservation Project on Sumatran Rhinoceros” following the 9th HoB Trilateral Meeting.

The “Visit the Heart of Borneo” campaign was launched in conjunction with the recent meeting.

Natural Resources and Environment Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Azimuddin Bahari, during the launch, said the campaign would promote HoB eco-tourism areas.

“It is in line with the global aspiration, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly, that 2017 would be International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.”

The Sabah and Sarawak Forestry Departments had identified top eco-tourism sites to promote. They were chosen based on how well they could further the HoB initiative.

The states would engage further with stakeholders on how best to implement the campaign.

The HoB Trilateral Meeting is held annually on a rotation basis among Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia for each state to present reports on conservation efforts. It is a platform to discuss collaboration under the HoB initiative.

Source : New Straits Times

Sabahan gets US conservation award

KOTA KINABALU: A Sabahan wildlife conservationist focused on preserving the highly endangered pangolins has been named a recipient of the Houston Zoo Wildlife Warrior Award.

Elisa Panjang, 33, was among five wildlife conservationists from Africa, Asia and South America named for the award.

According to the Houston Zoo website, the award is to honour outstanding conservationists from developing countries instrumental in protecting their local wildlife.

The zoo, the second most visited in the United States with 2.55 million visitors, supports over a dozen conservation projects around the world.

 Elisa, who is the pangolin conservation officer at the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) in Kinabatangan, said she would use the fund from the award to support her training at a rescue centre in Vietnam or any other place.

“The award will definitely raise the profile of the pangolin locally as well as internationally. The zoo recognised the importance of pangolin research in our country. Malaysia should do the same by supporting local researchers,” said Elisa, thanking DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens for nominating her.

“I hope that this international recognition will inspire our youths to get involved in science and conservation issues,” she said.

Dr Goossens said the visit to the rescue centre would enable the Sandakan-born Elisa to learn more about its captive breeding programme.

“I believe that a captive breeding programme of pangolins in Sabah will be one of the solutions to save them from extinction,” he said of the animal, widely known as the most trafficked mammal in the world.

“We don’t have data to show their decline but the reality is that it is almost impossible to survey pangolins in the wild.

“They rarely appear in our camera traps,” said Dr Goossens.

Source : The Star

FOSTER maps out plans for sea turtles conservation

SANDAKAN: The Executive Committee of Friends of Sea Turtles Education & Research (FOSTER) gathered on Tuesday for their general meeting to map out plans for the 4th quarter of 2017 and the 1st quarter of 2018.

FOSTER is a part of a turtle conservation programme made available after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sabah Wildlife Department in July 2013 after its involvement in the setting up of a turtle hatchery on Libaran Island in 2012.

The programme includes creating awareness for the locals and visitors on the conservation value of sea turtles, undertaking research projects with the goal of better understanding the life cycle of sea turtles surrounding the Libaran Island area and to make available research programmes on sea turtles for international and local students.

From 2012 until July 2017, the hatchery had collected 26,672 Green turtle eggs and 10,598 Hawksbill turtle eggs.  Of these, 21,196 baby Green turtles and 7,474 baby Hawksbill turtles were successfully released into the ocean.

During the meeting, the committee made an evaluation of the programmes undertaken by FOSTER, such as community beach cleaning and dialogues with villagers at Libaran Island.

FOSTER is also working on a book on the turtle programme on Libaran which will be published by the first quarter of 2018. The book will record experiences on the island and will contain scientific data on sea turtle landings.

Seeing more work ahead, FOSTER will be contacting Sabah Wildlife Department to discuss on training more Honorary Wildlife Wardens to handle some of the anticipated work.

The tasks of these wardens will include patrolling the streets of Sandakan for illegal turtle eggs seller and turtle protection work on Libaran Island.

The discussion ended with the committee members having an afternoon tea at the newly opened Mango Garden Restaurant in Sepilok. Readers who are looking for further information could contact the president of FOSTER, Alexander Yee via email at forsterseaturtle@gmail.com.

Source: The Borneo Post

Sabah looking at making pangolins a completely protected species

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department is looking at upgrading the status of Pangolin to a completely protected species.

The department is in the midst of preparing a paper on the matter to upgrade the status of the mammalian from Schedule 2 to Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said he had ordered the department which falls under his ministry, to undertake the matter as soon as possible.

“They have always been planning to do this but now enough is enough. While it is impossible for a complete stop of pangolin or wildlife trade, but what is important is that we sends a strong message to all citizens on the need for all of us to work together in protecting them,” he said.

Masidi said this when asked about the recent case of an attempt to smuggle in RM103 million worth of pangolin scales weighing 8,000 kilogrammes via Sepanggar Port here.

In Sabah, Schedule 2 of the Enactment permits the hunting of the listed animals with a permit.

Masidi hoped that the stronger legislation via the status upgrading will help cut off illegal wildlife trade.

On the scales confiscated on July 29, Sabah Customs Department believes the scales were sourced from some 16,000 pangolins.

Asked whether the state government is pursuing to verify where they came from, Masidi said it is up to the Wildlife Department but there is obviously ‘a need to do so’.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment deputy minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming had previously stated that Sabah was likely to be a transshipment point in this case, as there was ‘no way a pangolin population of that size can come from Sabah’.

Customs director-general Datuk T. Subromaniam at a function here yesterday, said investigations involving the 43-year-old suspect in the pangolin scales case are almost complete and he is expected to be charged in court soon.

Source: New Straits Times

Puntung the Sumatran rhino immortalised in painting

KOTA KINABALU: A 16-year-old girl has immortalised the near-extinct Sumatran rhino in her painting.

Monica Vun Yi Jing titled her artwork “Kenangan si Puntung bersama alam semula jadi” (A memory of Puntung with nature) to commemorate the loss of Puntung, one of the country’s last remaining Sumatran rhinos.

Puntung, a female Sumatran rhino that lived at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, suffered from skin cancer and was put down in June.

Vun said she was saddened over Puntung’s demise, and that she was inspired to produce the painting for the 32th Annual Artworks held in conjunction with the Yang di-Pertua Negeri’s official birthday.

“The drawing depicts the endangered species in the wild and the local motifs drawn on Puntung’s body represent the various ethnic groups in Sabah.

“I spent about RM135 to complete this art within a month and a half,” she said during the prize presentation ceremony at Sabah Art Gallery here today.

Vun’s artwork is among 614 entries submitted by students and members of the public from the southwest coast division.

Also present were Deputy Sabah Cultural Board chairman Datuk Jaimin Samitah and the gallery’s curator Jennifer Linggi.

Jaimin said the event required participants to do study subjects related to the state before translating them into paintings.

“There will be 90 artworks to be chosen to be displayed at the gallery.

“The public will have the opportunity to visit the three-month-long exhibition at the gallery here after the final awards presentation in September.”