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Doom for proboscis monkeys in Pitas

Published on: Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pitas: Proboscis monkeys have been spotted in the Sungei Eloi mangrove forest where trees in their habitat had been marked red and destined for cutting by a contractor as part of a massive 4,000-hectre joint-venture project aquaculture project between a key State agency and a Perak-based seafood company.

"Now we have hard proof what Eloi village leader Mastupang Somoi told me is true. So stop any further destruction of the mangroves that doesn't even have any approved EIA," cried Dr Henry Chok, founder and life member of Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa).

"Mastupang had said it before but I did not quite believe him until all of a sudden a group of eight very healthy-looking Proboscis monkeys leapt in front of our boat at an untimely hour of 11.35am," said a stunned Chok.

"I wasn't in Pitas looking for Proboscis monkeys. The distraught villagers complained being suddenly deprived of crabs, shellfish, snails, prawns and fish which were their easy traditional food source due to large scale clearance of mangrove on the edge of Kg Datong and Kg Eloi especially.

This place is really fantastic. Better than what I have seen in Klias, so beautiful the river, so natural, so healthy the animals and there is lot of potential tourism so stop this destruction," Chok pleaded.

"This is really too much when so much destruction had taken place before they had studied the project area and before they had done any Environment Impact Assessment," Chok said.

A well placed source at the Sabah Environment Protection Department (EPD) said it served the contractor a RM30,000 compound in addition to a stop-work order on September 23 but neither the fine had been paid nor the stop-work order complied with! "The Proboscis monkey is a Totally Protected species listed under Schedule 1, in the same rank as the Orangutan, the Sumatran rhino, sea turtle, Cloud leopard , Sun bear, pitcher plant, Rafflesia etc," said Director of Wildlife Dapartment Sabah , Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, when asked on the monkey's legal conservation status.