7pc increase in Mt Kinabalu climbers
Published on: Sunday, August 18, 2019
By: Bernama
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KUNDASANG: The opening of two new hostels at Panalaban – Kinotoki and Mokodou – since April 2 has led to an increase of climbers at Mt Kinabalu.

“The hostels have enabled more people to take in the view at the peak of Mt Kinabalu, a precious experience,” said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Christina Liew, at an officiating ceremony Saturday.

The Deputy Chief Minister also said: 

“The hostels are in addition to Laban Rata Resthouse managed by Sutera Sanctuary Lodges, Pendant Hut under Mountain Torq and Lemaing Hostel under Sabah Parks (TTS).”

She said total climbers in the first half of 2019 was 21,405, a rise of 7 per cent compared to the same period last year with 20,006 people.

She said from April to June, the new hostels accommodated 1,011 Malaysians and 882 foreigners.

As a result of the hostel openings, total climbers per day has increased to 168 from 135 previously, she added.

Liew said the project -- which includes staff quarters, the operations office, Burlington Hut and checkpoint counters – started on March 22, 2016 and fully completed on Dec 8, 2017 was made successful through a RM12 million allocation from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac).

The other projects have been a drainage system and a waste plant built at a cost of RM5.4 million and ready on July 31.

A project, which will begin at the end of the year, is the improvement of tourist facilities at Layang-Layang, like a hostel and restaurant, at a cost of RM14 million, said Liew.

Meanwhile, Liew said Sabah is seeking a German expert for a rhino captive breeding programme to be jointly undertaken with Indonesia.

She said this was among the input provided by Wildlife Adviser to the Minister, Datuk Dr John Payne, Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga and WWF-Malaysia Conservation Director Henry Chan.

“A captive breeding programme is to prevent extinction of the species in Sabah, given that Iman kept at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu, is Malaysia’s sole surviving female rhino at the moment,” she said.

The programme is expected to include in vitro fertilisation (IVF) by extracting an egg from Iman and getting it fertilised in a specialist lab using sperm from one of Indonesia’s captive male rhinos, before implanting the embryo (fertilised egg) in the womb of a surrogate female rhino.

Liew said the governments of Indonesia and Sabah-Malaysia have agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Conservation of the Sumatran rhinoceros in Indonesia next month.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between Christina and Director-General Wiratno of the Directorate General of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation under the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Indonesia early this month.

Liew said both expressed their commitment to conserving the Sumatran rhinoceros and agreed that political will is crucial to the signing of the MoU, recognising that the rhino is one of the world’s most endangered species.

Iman remains Malaysia’s sole surviving female Sumatran rhino following the death of Malaysia’s sole surviving male Sumatran rhino, Tam, on May 29 this year due to old age and multiple organ failure stemming from kidney and liver damage.

Iman, who was captured in 2014, has been kept at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary since then. However, Iman has been diagnosed as having cysts and fibroids in her womb rendering her infertile.

Tam, aged between 30 and 35 years, was captured near an oil palm plantation in 2008 and translocated to the sanctuary in Tabin. Attempts were made to mate Tam with Puntung (a female rhino captured in 2011) and Iman under a captive breeding programme but these failed to produce viable pregnancies. 

Puntung, then 25 years old, was reported to have reproductive problems with cysts in the lining of her womb.

She was euthanised after her battle against skin cancer in June 2017.


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