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Sabah to seek joint World Heritage Status for 3 areas
Published on: Friday, June 24, 2011

Tuaran: The Sabah Government is taking steps to secure Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon in perpetuity by applying for joint World Heritage Status for all three conservation areas.State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, when disclosing the State Cabinet's decision at the 1st Borneo Carnivore Symposium (BCS) here, Thursday, said this was to ensure that nothing would disrupt the ecosystems in these areas in the long run.

"The reason behind this is simple; we want to protect our forests so no future corrupted politician can take it away."

He said it was crucial to protect Sabah's forests and wildlife to benefit future generations and to ensure its position as a tourism destination.

"Eventually, tourism will be the number one earner for Sabah and people will come from all over the world to see Sabah's nature and it makes business sense to protect our jungles," Masidi added.

This first ever symposium on Borneo's carnivores was organised by the Sabah Wildlife Department, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research of Germany, and attended by delegates from 15 countries comprising scientists, conservationists and representatives of government agencies.

During the one-week programme, they sought to ensure the future survival of Borneo's 23 carnivore species. The carnivores of concern are a group of mammals comprising cats like the Sunda Clouded Leopard, civets such as the Malay Civet (Tangalunga), otters and badgers such as Teledu.

One of the scientists present, Andre Hearn of Oxford University, said the three conservation areas being put forth by the State Government for the World Heritage Status application, were also home to the very mysterious and endangered species of carnivores such as the Borneo Bay Cat (Pardofelis badia) and Hose's Palm Civet (Diplogale hosei).

"The Borneo Bay Cat is found only in Borneo and has been recorded by camera traps in Danum Valley at relatively high frequency, compared to other areas in Sabah," said Hearn.

The first photograph in the wild of the Borneo Bay Cat was actually taken only in 2002 in Mulu National Park in Sarawak.

The elusive Hose's Palm Civet was not found during any camera trap surveys in the lowland of eastern Sabah including Danum Valley, but was found instead only in Maliau Basin, which is the most "eastern" record of this species.

IUCN Chairman, Dr Jerrold L. Belant, said: "This highlights the fact that it is probably found in low densities and supports the notion that it is restricted to the highland forest of Borneo.

"This, in turn, points to the fact that it is crucial to protect different types of forest that support different communities of both wildlife and plant life diversity."

Said Sabah Wildlife Department Director Dr Laurentius Ambus: "Maliau Basin, Danum Valley and Imbak Canyon are part of the larger contiguous forest concession area belonging to the Sabah Foundation.

This area as a whole is vital because it has different types of forest such as lowland and highland and supports a number of different species."



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