RM4.5m Pangolin Sanctuary, Research Institute
Published on: Tuesday, June 25, 2019
By: Larry Ralon
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KOTA KINABALU: A RM4.5 million Sabah Pangolin Sanctuary and Research Institute (Sapsari) will be set up in the 20,000-hectare Tawau Hills Park to advance pangolin research and conservation efforts.  

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on this was sealed between the State Government through the Wildlife Department and Sapsari Arizona, witnessed by Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew, at her Ministry office in Wisma Tun Fuad Stephens, here, Monday.

The MoU documents were signed and exchanged between State Wildlife Director Augustine Tuuga and Sapsari Arizona Founder/Director Peter Chan, who also contributed RM1 million to kick-start the Sapsari development, which altogether is estimated to cost RM4.5 million.   

“The State Cabinet has approved the establishment of Sapsari and for it to be set up in the Tawau Hills Park,” said Liew, who described the MoU signing as “momentous” to kick off the effort and raise the awareness level for the critically endangered Sunda pangolin. 

“We can no longer stand down. We must act and we must act quickly,” she said, while praising Chan for being so passionate and putting forth such an effort to help in wildlife conservation. 

“Prior to this, Chan has been very passionate about providing access to higher education and helping young students gain access to university education. He has funded two permanent endowments at the University of Texas System, geared towards providing scholarships for international students and Malaysians.  We are glad that he has returned to his homeland to help on a global scale,” she said.  

According to Liew, when she took office in 2018 she has placed a heightened level of emphasis on wildlife conservation.  

“It is not only personal but also the right thing to do. Our conservation efforts are in line with the numerous programmes around the world that is now starting to see the importance of sustainability and conservation. 

“Generally, people are beginning to realise the importance of taking the right things to preserve our heritage and resources for future generations to enjoy and experience. 

“This past year has been significant in a number of ways, with great progress made on several fronts here in our State. All these efforts have contributed positively to the success of our wildlife conservation programmes.”  

Liew said the State has since drawn up a 10-year Action Plan to protect several wildlife species, such as Bornean elephants, Sunda leopards, proboscis monkeys and barntengs. 

“This is a significant step in the right direction. The Plan provides a framework for management of wildlife and its resources. Another aspect is the continuous funding by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council,” said Liew.  

The Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit or WRU has also done a tremendous job in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing rescued animals, she said, adding their work must not go unrecognised.

Meanwhile, Chan, who is from Penang and based in Arizona, said Sapsari had allocated a RM1 million fund to get the project moving.

“I want to start this sanctuary construction project as a public partnership with the Sabah State Government. It is a global project.

“The total cost of the construction of the sanctuary is expected to reach RM4.5 million and we will collect funds for this,” he said.

The pangolin was upgraded last year as a protected species in Sabah, joining the ranks of the orangutan, sun bear and several other iconic species. It is forbidden to hunt, consume or sell pangolins or their parts, a crime punishable under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

Pangolin scales and meat are in high demand in Asian markets for their supposedly healing properties.



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