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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

Eyes of the World on Sun Bears’ Hero

KOTA KINABALU: A wildlife researcher’s tireless efforts to ensure the survival of the sun bear – the smallest bear species in the world – is getting international attention.

For nearly a decade, Dr Wong Siew Te quietly cared for sun bears that were orphaned by poachers or seized from those keeping them illegally as pets.

His efforts are now in the spotlight after Dr Wong was named a CNN Hero.

CNN describes its heroes as everyday people doing extraordinary things to change the world.

The 48-year-old wildlife biologist founded the Sun Bear conservation centre in Sepilok on the east coast of Sandakan in 2008.

Since then, the centre has cared for 55 bears. Among those, two have been put back into the wild while 10 died due to various causes.

Dr Wong said the centre intends to release four more bears this year.

The majority of the bears there are not likely to readapt to their natural environment because they have become domesticated, he said.

For example, some of these bears have lost their ability to forage for food and others cannot even climb trees anymore.

The Penang-born researcher came to Sabah about 30 years ago as a University of Montana student tasked with studying what was then the little-known sun bear.

Over that period, he noticed that the population was declining by as much as 30% and this spurred him to set up the rehabilitation centre.

Wong told CNN: “Sun bears became part of my family. When they’re endangered, I care for them. When they are in trouble, I speak for them.

“I want to be the voice of the sun bear, to fight for the sun bear, to ensure the survival of the sun bear. But my ultimate goal is to save the entire forest ecosystem … that is so important to the survival of mankind.”

The CNN feature on Wong and his work can be viewed at goo.gl/gsrVHK

Details on the rehabilitation centre are available at www.bsbcc.org.my

Source: The Star

1,000kg of Milk Powder Donated to Feed Bornean Elephants

KOTA KINABALU: The cost to feed the orphan Bornean elephants at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre has been eased with donation of 1,000kg of milk powder.

Following the increasing trend of orphaned Bornean elephants by being taken in by the Sabah Wildlife Department into the care centre, the biggest challenge faced by the government agency is to provide best husbandry care for the babies.

These baby elephants were rescued throughout the elephant habitat across the state by the Wildlife Rescue Unit. Currently these orphans are being cared for in the Elephant Care Unit, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) through the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) also has been working hard to reach out to the corporate bodies for possible collaboration in assisting the department to fund for daily care and feeding of the babies.

“Last year, WRU in association with the Rotarian Action Group for Endangered Species (RAGES) has been investigating the best milk powder food option for the endangered orphan Bornean elephants.  A few products were tested during the trials. After the trials, it was decided that the Unit is going to use Fonterra milk as the main product to feed the baby elephants,” said Dr Diana Ramirez, acting manager of WRU.

The first shipment came last year with initial donation by BCT-Japan towards the cost of purchasing 1.2 tons of milk powder from Fonterra New Zealand.

And after seven months, Fonterra and RAGES continued their support towards the plight of Bornean elephants through the second shipment of one tonne of milk formula directly from New Zealand. The milk powder arrived at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on July 25 and sent to Sepilok. This will help to feed the orphaned elephants for the next six months and saving the department up to RM100,000 on the feed cost. All were made possible by continuous support of South East Asia RAGES’ Project Director, Debbie Mair.

“We at RAGES-SE Asia are committed to preserving and investing in the conservation of the endangered Bornean elephants and at the same time through the collaboration to boost eco-tourism and boost economic growth,” said Debbie.

 

Source: TheBorneoPost

Forests Outside of Protected Areas Critical For Orangutan

KOTA KINABALU: The Lower Kinabatangan has lost almost a third of its orangutan population in the last 16 years, following continued loss of forests outside of protected areas and further fragmentation of their habitat that is home to other wildlife, including the Borneo pygmy elephant and the proboscis monkey.

These forests outside protected areas – including privately owned and state lands – are largely composed of swamp areas that are increasingly becoming threatened in Borneo and which have poor or no economic value for oil palm due to daily or seasonal flooding events.

Long-term monitoring has revealed that the decline of orangutans has not stopped in the Lower Kinabatangan, despite this being identified as a high priority area for the primate in Sabah’s Orangutan Action Plan. It is critical to both address the future of these forests outside of protected areas and to recreate contiguous forest corridors.

The future is bleak for the Bornean orangutan, which last year moved to IUCN’s Critically Endangered category with numbers dropping from 4,000 individuals in the 1960s to 1,125 in 2001 to less than 800 today in the Lower Kinabatangan.

A study published this month in Scientific Reports indicates Sabah’s overall orangutan population has dropped by 20 per cent since the last comprehensive survey in the early 2000s, which had placed their number at 11,000 individuals.

Borneo Futures co-founder Dr Marc Ancrenaz said habitat fragmentation in Lower Kinabatangan remains a major issue with 11,000 hectares of forests outside protected areas lost in under a decade up to 2014, and over 20,000 hectares on alienated and state lands at risk of being converted for agriculture, primarily oil palm, further fragmenting the orangutan population and accelerating its decline.

Elaborating the value of forests outside of protected areas for biodiversity, Ancrenaz said a habitat suitability model developed for 13 mammal species in the Lower Kinabatangan revealed that 91 per cent of these non-protected forests were a good home for orangutan.

“Despite their degraded status in the Lower Kinabatangan, these are high conservation value forests and are key to supporting wildlife but further fragmentation would jeopardize the viability of animal populations.

“We need to recreate a contiguous forest corridor of about 52,000 hectares in the floodplain. One way of starting the process would be to address the future of forests that are not part of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and forest reserves,” he said.

However, acquiring privately owned lands and habitat restoration are both costly in a landscape that is about 82 per cent covered with oil palm, a crop that is important to Sabah’s economy and a trade imperative for Malaysia.

“The orangutan population in Lower Kinabatangan needs to be reconnected if Sabah wants to ensure its long-term viability. In a study on orangutans throughout Borneo, it was discovered that forest patches inhabited by this primate are the smallest in Sabah compared to other states and  in Borneo and the distance between patches is the longest.

“This latest information shows that efforts must be made to secure habitats in forests outside the current protected areas to ensure that the population of orangutans in this region does not further drop,” said Ancrenaz, who has spent almost 20 years in the Lower Kinabatangan.

Hunting, poaching and over exploitation of forests were historical threats that kick started the decline of the species. However, the species is facing new risks today, such as habitat fragmentation, emerging diseases and conflicts with domestic animals or snares that are set up to catch wild boars but also catch orangutans when they walk on the ground.

Ancrenaz had recently undertaken a case study named “Addressing the Impact of Large-Scale Oil Palm Plantations on Orangutan Conservation in Borneo: A Spatial, Legal and Political Economy Analysis” for the Environment and Development project with Ridge to Reef co-director Holly Jonas and Living Landscape Alliance founder and co-director Dr Nicola K. Abram. The study was funded by Arcus Foundation.

The case study produced an analysis of the geographical overlap between primate’s Bornean habitat and areas demarcated for large scale oil palm development, as well as the extent to which their habitat lies within existing protected areas in Sabah, Sarawak and Indonesia’s Kalimantan. An analysis was also done on how legal frameworks and political economies interact with the oil palm industry and orangutan conservation in Borneo.

 

Source: TheBorneoPost