Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Buying up land to save wildlife

2009/06/30 New Straits Times, Malaysia

Buying up land to save wildlife

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government wants to purchase privately owned land at zones neighbouring the fragmented Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary to ensure the long-term survival of iconic wildlife such as the orang utan.

The move, along with plans to buy land at river banks, will lead to the eventual creation of forest corridors at the 26,000ha sanctuary, which is divided into 10 lots due to prior existence of oil palm plantations and villages.

Currently, a non-profit organisation, Borneo Conservation Trust, is purchasing land for the same purpose using money raised from corporations and individuals concerned with warnings of possible in-breeding of certain species that are unable to move from one protected forest to another.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said such a move was necessary for the sake of wildlife.

"For example, we have an estimated 30 Sumatran rhinoceroses but the remaining individuals are not breeding.

"We believe one reason for this is forests are not connected and they can't move about."

He said this when launching the Kinabatangan-Corridor of Life Tourism Association at Kampung Bilit on the banks of the Kinabatangan river at Sabah's east coast, yesterday.