Modified vehicles for rescuers
Published on: Saturday, June 22, 2019
By: Leonard Alaza
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Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Wildlife Department’s Rescue Unit (WRU) has fresh new legs to continue its good work in wildlife rescues deep in Sabah’s forest with three fully modified Toyota 4WD vehicles being presented by Orangutan Appeal UK.

The handing over ceremony of the vehicles, which would add to WRU’s existing fleet of three, was held Friday with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal saluting the unit for its huge contribution to wildlife conservation in Sabah ever since it was set up nine years ago.

“”The Wildlife Rescue Unit has indeed played a significant role in a vast number of wildlife rescues and translocation operations. 

“It has become an integral part of Sabah Wildlife Department’s arsenal to manage wildlife conservation in Sabah,” he said. His speech was read by Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.

Also present at the ceremony was Susan Sheward, the chairperson and founder of the Orangutan Appeal UK.

Through her charity, she has helped fundraise in excess of RM12 million to assist Sabah’s wildlife particularly the orangutans, over the past 18 years.

“When we met for the first time last September, you told me you wanted to do more than just saving the orangutans, and you pledged RM1 million over a period of five years which would include funding three fully modified off road Toyota Hilux 4WD vehicles for Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit.

“I would like to thank you for the fantastic work your charity has carried out over the past 18 years, fundraising in excess of RM12,” he said.

He expressed delight with Orangutan Appeal UK’s support for Sabah’s strategy in managing wildlife conservation which he described as under critical threat due to habitat loss and poaching.

“Though we had just recently loss one of our remaining two Sumatran rhinos, I would like to assure you that we are doing everything in our power to resolve the current situation and prevent extinction of Sabah’s other iconic wildlife such as the Bornean elephant, sunda pangolin, Bornean orangutans, tambadau and many more,” he pledged.

Shafie noted that the unit has been funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council through the Wildlife Conservation Fund.

“They were only supposed to fund it for three years, after which the previous government was supposed to absorb this unit as permanent staff of the Sabah Wildlife Department but they failed to do so,” he said.

Thanking the MPOC for going beyond their call by continuing to fund the WRU for a further six years, the Chief Minister said he would get the SWD director to explore every possibility to absorb the unit’s 18 rangers into the department.

Orangutan Appeal UK is a well-known British-based NGO founded by Sheward in 2000 and has been working closely with the SWD for the past 20 years providing support and raising worldwide awareness of the critically endangered orangutan.


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