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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

Sabah’s wildlife rangers to be in focus in season 2 of Borneo Wildlife Warriors

KOTA KINABALU: Following a positive reception, Borneo Wildlife Warriors – an online series focusing on Sabah’s wildlife rangers – will premier its second season next week.

Kick starting August 16, the weekly web-series brought by leading south east Asia’s production and photography company Scubazoo will feature efforts to care and rescue sun bears, Bornean pygmy elephants and orangutans at Sabah’s east coast this time.

The new six-episode series will continue featuring award-winning British journalist and presenter Aaron ‘Bertie’ Gekoski who hosted the first series, picking up from his bootcamp at Sabah west coast’s operations (Lok Kawi Wildlife Park) and moving to more intense activities while based at Sepilok in Sandakan.

“When I tell people back home that I rescued elephants, they said ‘woah’ – they think it is so much fun.

“But it is not; it is hard work and this second season we will go out on more extreme activities like catching and relocating a bull elephant.

“After spending a decade in Africa and coming to Asia, I can say this is the single most hard core thing I had to do,” Bertie shared on his experience while making the series during a press conference here.

It gave him a glimpse of how hard life is for wildlife rangers where they spent a week chasing after and catching the bull elephant trapped inside a large plantation, which he described as an intelligent animal that ‘kept darting away from us’.

“Once, we got separated from the group and got lost for 12 hours in the jungle with no phone for communication or food.

“The best part after our operation is done and we came back exhausted, we were asked to go out again to get an orangutan and its baby trapped and malnourished in another palm oil plantation,” he added.

Asked if he would do it all over again given the chance, Bertie replied in a definite yes – which echoes the tagline of the series, ‘Because the Jungle is Worth Fighting For’.

Meanwhile, Kota Kinabalu-based Scubazoo operations director Terence Lim said they are looking for local presenters with a passion for wildlife and story telling that could do hosting jobs like Bertie.

“It would be great if we have a local ‘Bertie’ who could highlight our own conservation efforts and we welcomed those interested (to contact us),’ he added.

Source: New Straits Times

Catch online Borneo Wildlife Warriors series

KOTA KINABALU: There are no scripts, no actors and certainly no props. There are only real people with the penchant to rescue wild animals which are in trouble.

The online series, Borneo Wildlife Warriors (BWW) is back for the second season.

According to Scubazoo TV (SZtv’s) presenter, Aaron ‘Bertie’ Gekoski, the new season will have six weekly web episodes premiering this coming Wednesday.

“The new season will feature sun bears, elephants, orangutans and more by focusing on breath-taking rescues and relocations,” he said.

Bertie who is the in-house presenter for SZtv, had also hosted the Borneo Jungle Diaries which offer 10 episodes.

“This BWW is a series of continuous effort that concentrate on the rescue unit in protecting the wildlife.

“All six episodes are dedicated to Sepilok and the sun bears, Bornean elephants, bull elephants relocation which is in two episodes (Part 1 and Part 2), mother and baby orangutans rescue, mother and baby orangutans release which will be in the last episode (of BWW Season 2),” Bertie said.

Bertie said as a wildlife photojournalist, as well as a Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) ranger, he faces “the real adventure” by investigating the threats posed by deforestation, the illegal pet trade and human-wildlife conflict.

Head of WRU, Dr. Sen Nathan said the series shows the behind-the-scenes look at what goes on in WRU rescues. “It’s basically a reality show on our wildlife rescues and it also portrays the many wonderful characters within WRU whose members’ great deeds and heroic attempts in saving Sabah wildlife,” he said.

Acting manager for WRU, Dr. Diana A. Ramirez Saldivar said WRU are the elite group of vets and rangers who deal with human-animal conflict and for the BWW Season 2, they are tasked with saving Borneo’s wildlife.

“WRU is ready round the clock, 365 days a year to deal with human-animal conflict,” she said.

Dr. Diana said WRU is a special unit that is created and fully founded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). It was launched in May 2010 with the task of rescuing and trans-locating distressed wildlife found within the Sabah landscape.

WRU now has 18 rangers and four veterinarians, said Dr. Diana during the press conference yesterday.

Source: New Sabah Times

Film featuring Sabah’s wildlife and rescues showing Sept 16

KOTA KINABALU: Borneo Wildlife Warriors, a six weekly episodes of a film production featuring sun bears, elephants, orangutans and others, on breath-taking rescues and relocations in the state will be released starting from September 16.

This will be the second season after the completion of its first 10-episode film production, ‘Borneo Jungle Diaries’. The episodes can be watched online at scubazoo.tv.

Scubazoo TV is a new online wildlife channel by Asia’s leading natural history filming and photography company, Scubazoo.

Its managing director, Jason Isley, said these episodes will be investigating the threats posed by afforestation, the illegal pet trade and more with Sabah’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) vets and rangers working to protect endangered wildlife.

“There are a few places that evoke the magic and mystery of Borneo: dense jungles packed with enigmatic animals, including orangutans, sun bears and the world’s smallest elephant. However, Borneo’s rain forests – and all that inhabit there are facing colossal threats. Deforestation, illegal wildlife and pet trade and the traditional medicine trade are all threatening the survival of these unique animals,” he said.

Isley added the WRU are an elite group of vets and rangers on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to deal with human-animal conflict. Through rehabilitation programmes, relentless rescues and relocations, they are tasked with saving Borneo’s wildlife though their exhausting, often dangerous work is not the subject of the show.

“The series shows a real behind-the-scene look at what goes on at our rescues. It is basically a reality show on our wildlife rescues and also portrays the many wonderful characters within the WRU whose great deeds and heroic attempts save the wildlife in Sabah,” he said in a press conference yesterday.

All the episodes will also available at SZtv Facebook page.

Source: The Borneo Post

Live sharks to be the stars at Manukan Aquarium Centre

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Parks have taken the initiative to upgrade a building at Pulau Manukan here into an aquarium centre to educate the public about marine biodiversity.

Its director, Dr Jamili Nais, said the centre was part of the government’s efforts in shark conservation.

“The main attraction at the aquarium will be live sharks, including blacktip reef sharks.

“This is in line with the government’s recent announcement that marine parks will serve as shark sanctuaries,” he said during the soft launch of the new attraction in Pulau Manukan here recently.

These sanctuaries will be set up at more than two million hectares in marine parks, including Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park here, Tun Mustapha Marine Park in Kudat, and Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Semporna.

The state government is in favour of a ban on shark finning as the species contributed significantly to the tourism industry.

On average, 55,000 divers come to Sabah yearly and 80 per cent of them came to see live sharks in the sea.

The year-long activity contributed more than RM300 million in tourism receipts.

Jamili said the centre would be opened to the public in September, adding that the entrance fee would be waived for a year.

The 0.01ha centre, which costs RM100,000, was mostly built by the staff of Sabah Parks.

Source: The New Strait Times