Beautiful Sabah 3.0 contest attracts int’l participants

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Tourism Board’s Beautiful Sabah 3.0 online photography and video contest, ended on October 8 and attracted participation from eleven countries through social media.

The countries were Australia, China, France, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Philippines, UK and Malaysia.

This is the third edition of the contest and has the most submissions from overseas.

A total of 800 photographs and 15 videos were submitted during the two-month online contest.

“The participation from most (of the) international countries is through the power of social media. Through social media, every post shared can lead to a site visit and eventually a conversion,” said Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, chairman of Sabah Tourism Board at the prize presentation ceremony, yesterday.

Winners of the competition were presented with their prizes yesterday at Sabah Tourism Board by Joniston, who urged the participants to use their talents and skills to keep promoting Sabah through their lenses and video making skills.

Also present at the event were general manager of Sabah Tourism Board Gordon Yapp, deputy general manager (support services) Noredah Othman and communications manager Hana S. Harun

The top five winners of the photography competition were Tsen Lip Kai, Rustam Razali, Clement Liew, Tirado Jupirin and Mohd Erwin Mohd Ussdek, and the top five winners of the video competition were Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong, Leon Kuan, Danny Daniel Nguai, Sharif Putra Sharif Ubong and Ivan Ong Jian Hau.

The Beautiful Sabah 3.0 sponsorship, worth about RM15,000 were from the private sector, namely the Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort,  Sutera Harbour Resort, Promenade Hotel Kota Kinabalu, Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, Grandis Hotel and Resorts, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan, Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai, Techfix, Canon Marketing (Malaysia), Syarikat Percetakan Suria, Toppoint Company Sdn Bhd, Ebiz Design & Communications, and Videographics Productions Sdn Bhd.


Source: Borneo Post

Elusive clouded leopard tagged in Kinabatangan

KINABATANGAN: A wild Sunda clouded leopard was trapped and fitted with a satellite collar last week.

“On the morning of October 28, this new male leopard entered one of our purpose-built traps along the Kinabatangan River.

“It was a very healthy male, weighing 24.75 kg. And, we named him Cakar for “storm,” said Meg Evans, a PhD student at Cardiff University and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) carnivore expert.

Evans said in a statement here yesterday Cakar was the fourth male collared in the vicinity of DGFC. The last clouded leopard (a female) was collared in August 2014.

“We are planning to collar more individuals along the Kinabatangan,” added Evans. This effort is part of a collaborative project between the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), WildCRU (Oxford University) and DGFC.

The project, focusing on research and conservation of the Sunda clouded leopard in Sabah, is mainly funded by Sime Darby Foundation, with additional funding and support from Atlanta Zoo, Houston Zoo, Recanati-kaplan Foundation, Robertson Foundation, Point Defiance Zoo, Rufford Foundation and The Clouded Leopard Project.

Meanwhile DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the collaring of this new male was part of an intensive satellite tracking programme to study the spatial ecology and habitat associations of the Sunda clouded leopard in the fragmented landscape of the Lower Kinabatangan.

The area is dominated by palm oil plantations and highly degraded forest.

Dr Goossens who is also Reader at Cardiff University added that the data produced by the first four individuals collared between September 2013 and September 2014 had provided considerable insights into the landscape ecology of this elusive top carnivore.

“Our results are currently being assessed for publication,”he said.

Dr Goossens also said that last June, SWD and DGFC organised an international workshop on the Sunda clouded leopard conservation, and that a Clouded Leopard Action Plan was currently being drafted.

According to him, the information provided by Cakar wold be extremely important for the management of the population in a fragile landscape such as the Kinabatangan floodplain. “The species is currently facing threats from hunting, pet trade and habitat loss,” he said.

Source : New Sabah Times

Heart of Borneo to be promoted as world class ecotourism destination

KOTA KINABALU: The next phase for the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative in Sabah will be to promote HoB as world class ecotourism destination.

Sabah’s Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests (Forest Sector Planning), Frederick Kugan, said a total of 37 ecotourism sites have been identified, including nine community-based tourism sites.

He said the move was important to create economy for the community and tapping into the tourism sector to support conservation efforts in the State.

“This is done through the concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) conservation finance strategy,” Frederick said in his presentation at the International Conference on HoB here yesterday.

The two-day event, themed ‘A Decade of HoB Initiative: Accomplishments and the Way Forward’, began yesterday at Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort here.

For the past 10 years, Frederick said the Sabah Forestry Department had been focusing on the maintenance of forest connectivity through strengthening of the protected areas network, and establishment of sustainably managed forest corridors connecting these areas.

“Sabah can be proud that we have achieved greatly in terms of increasing Total Protected Areas (TPAs) by 1 million hectares to 1.9 million hectares from 2007 to 2017.”

He said the initiative had also garnered support from partners to the tune of RM100 million through the signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

He said the HoB project had received RM38 million funding from the Federal Government thus far, while there was still RM27.5 million remaining from the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).

Frederick said the next phase of HoB in Sabah would be to look at how to achieve the target of gazetting the remaining four per cent, or 300,000 hectares as TPAs by 2025.

“It can come from forest reserves, state lands and maybe from existing titles or communities.”

He said the Sabah Forestry Department would be engaging with the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP) and Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to identify critical areas important for protection and areas good for rehabilitation or restoration.

He said the Sabah’s land use in the future might also evolve over time.

Frederick said this might lead to land swap to better enhance protected areas and to retain at least 50 per cent forest cover in the State.

“With all the conservation measures undertaken in Sabah, we believe that there will be at least no net loss or net gain in terms of biodiversity in the State.”

He added that the HoB initiative in Sabah would also be consolidating forest management enterprise (FME) initiative and targeting key sectors in sustainable resource management.

Under the Jurisdictional Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (JCSPO) 2025 initiative, there is a first five-year work plan to identify high conservation value forests, address Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) and catalogue smallholders within the palm oil sectors.

Frederick also stressed the need to expand the influence of HoB and linking up the various conservation efforts in the State such as the Tun Mustapha Marine Park, Klias Peninsular Wetlands, Kinabatangan Corridor of Life, LSKW Ramsar Site and Coral Triangle Initiative Project.

On the other hand, Dato’ Dr Mikaail Kavanagh shared how the idea of HoB came about in his keynote address.

He said it all started at a WWF Asia-Pacific CEOs meeting in Phuket, Thailand in October 2000.

“The idea was to connect up a big enough area to conserve a really representative chunk of Borneo’s rainforest in perpetuity.”

He said WWF Malaysia was then asked to lead the development of the ‘Borneo Forest Initiative’, the first priorities being to secure funding and develop the concept.

“We established small teams in the Malaysia and Indonesian WWF offices. One of my jobs was to get start-up fund.”

Kavanagh said the Malaysian and Indonesian teams quickly got down to working together.

During the first meeting in Singapore, he said WWF Indonesia corrected a conceptual mistake, that there was too much focus on the protected areas and not the overall context.

“We broadened our focus towards sustainability in the surrounding landscape.”

Meanwhile, Kavanagh said support was growing slowly in the WWF network until, at the suggestion of WWF United States, the Borneo Forest Initiative was rebranded as The Heart of Borneo, or HoB.

He said WWF Indonesia then initiated a workshop at Putussibau in West Kalimantan, hosted by the regency government.

“First and foremost, there are three countries on Borneo. What about Brunei?”

In this respect, Kavanagh said three people, namely the Brunei High Commissioner in London, Dato’ Yussof Hamid, WWF Diplomatic Advisor Guilda Navidi-Walker and WWF United Kingdom Conservation Director Francis Sullivan took their own initiative to get Brunei on board.

Later, Stuart Chapman joined the team as the HoB International Coordinator based in Jakarta.

“At this point, the team put a lot of effort into convincing allies and decision-makers on the various values of HoB.”

He said the pace really picked up from the beginning of 2005.

This led to the HoB workshop in Brunei held in April 2005 with government representatives from the three countries, WWF, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and scientists, where they drew up a vision statement.

The vision for the HoB is that partnerships at all levels ensure effective management and conservation of a network of protected areas, productive forests and other sustainable land uses. Borneo’s magnificent heritage is thereby sustained forever.

“The leaders for the governments’ teams at the April 2005 workshop were united in conveying their governments’ support for the initiative.”

Thanks to former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi, Kavanagh said the ASEAN heads of government accepted the importance of conserving the forests and other natural resources of the HoB at their summit in Kuala Lumpur, December 2005.

HoB was accepted as a flagship programme of the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines – East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) at the same summit.

On February 12, 2007, the ministers responsible for forestry in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia signed the landmark declaration on the HoB Initiative in Bali.

Kavanagh arrived in Malaysia in 1978 to coordinate the Malaysian Primates Research Programme for Cambridge University with Universiti Pertanian Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

He then spent 25 years with WWF Malaysia, starting with assisting Sarawak Forest Department to establish new protected areas, and later 16 years as national CEO through 2006.

In 2000, Kavanagh proposed that WWF explored the idea of creating transboundary protected areas along the Indonesia/Malaysia border, with Brunei joining in later that eventually became HoB.

Source : Borneo Post

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