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Sabah losing iconic species fast
Published on: Sunday, February 26, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah needs to act now to halt the steady loss of its flagship species of which the Proboscis monkey is one, said State Assistant Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Nyuk Ming."There was a time when rhinoceroses, elephants, bantengs, orangutans, proboscis monkeys, sun bears and clouded leopards roamed wild and abundant throughout the State, but we have to face the fact that we are losing these flagship species on a steadily declining basis," he said when closing the international Workshop on Proboscis Monkey Conservation in Sabah at Narada Hotel, Putatan.

"Their habitats are diminishing as the increasing human population requires even more space, food and, commodities and forests are logged, plantations established, infrastructure like bridges, roads and houses constructed over crucial wildlife habitats , driving the animals into smaller fragmented species."

He said characteristic of conventional development is crushed spaces which have become too small to sustain large populations while small populations have become isolated and unable to join groups as their traditional migrational routes are cut off by human settlements.

"Actually we cannot say that we don't know the downhill trend of the orangutan, proboscis monkey populations and implication of the proposed Sukau bridge and highway because the Sabah Wildlife Department in collaboration with Danau Girang Field Centre and Hutan issue updates of their important research and scientific papers which are published in important local press, social media every month.

"In terms of the Proboscis monkey, we have to face the fact that we are losing this flagship species due to an increase of fragmentation and encroachment of riparian reserves, clearing for example of mangroves habitats like Pitas or shrimp farming," Pan acknowledged.

"To ensure a bounce back of the proboscis monkey populations, this workshop has clearly demonstrated that we need to act now, we nee to tell the people of Sabah that if we do not find a way to harmonise wildlife and biodiversity conservation with our national development, we will lose what makes our State and its beautiful nature."

"In terms of riparian reserves which are crucial habitats to the Proboscis monkey, we need to ask the industry to give land back to us to rebuild wildlife corridors along our waterways.

"We need to stop Business As Usual deforestation and better manage our landscape, we need to put a halt to development projects that can be detrimental tour wildlife, such as the bridge project in Sukau, we need to find a balance between development and wildlife conservation," Pang said.

Pang credited the organisers namely SWD and Danau Girang and the Sime Darby Foundation which sponsored the event as part of its RM84m investment in conservation initiatives in Sabah out of its total spending of rm112m on its environment.

Giving reason why it had spent the bulk of its investment I Sabah, Sime Darby Foundation CEO, Yatela Zainal Abidin credited and open Sabah Government.

In a recent visit to Sabah, Foundation Chairman, Tun Musa Hitam had said recently he felt very uncomfortable about the proposed Sukau Bridge.

Yatela said also said at a joint press conference with Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi on 23 Feb that she hoped the decision on the bridge will be a positive one. - Kan Yaw Chong



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