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Action plan to protect Sabah's 3 iconic animals
Published on: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
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Kota Kinabalu: Sabah launched, Monday, three five-year State Species Action Plans for the orang-utan, elephant and rhinoceros, respectively, that will provide a platform for better protection of the three flagship species. The launching was officiated by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok at the opening of two-day Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium (SWCC), jointly organised by Sabah Wildlife Department and Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) together with the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT), Danau Girang Field and HUTAN - Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme, at the Le Meridien, here.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun and Wildlife Director Dr Laurentius Ambu, among others, were present.

Urging the plantation industry to collaborate with the State Government in implementing these Species Action Plans, Dompok was certain that with the cooperation from all parties concerned the oil palm industry can co-exist in a sustainable manner with the environment.

The plans are part of the nation's continued commitment towards conservation and continuation of its unique flora and fauna, he said.

"Being one of the world's mega centres of biodiversity, Malaysia has constantly become the focus of the international community and we have led the way in showcasing our effort in wildlife conservation and protection," said Dompok.

Malaysia pledged to maintain 50 per cent of the country's landmass under forest cover at the Rio Convention in 1992 and is still honouring this pledge 20 years on.

"Our unique wildlife and biodiversity are our natural heritage, and we owe it to ourselves not to deny our future generations these privileges and environmental treasures that we now enjoy. This demonstrates Malaysia's commitments on the approach towards sustainable development," he said.

Dompok said the SWCC 2012 which has aptly adopted the theme "Harmonising Wildlife and Biodiversity Conservation with National Development" is the next step forward to better address and manage wildlife conservation issues through a multi-stakeholder approach.

"This is important taking into account that any recommendations should be holistic in nature and aimed at balancing the needs of the people, economy and nature, which forms the basic tenets of sustainability," he said.

Dompok also spoke of the country's palm oil industry's contribution to conservation, saying the industry itself has become more involved in this effort, giving a new synergy to the term 'corporate social responsibility'.

He said the Government in collaboration with the palm oil industry had launched the Malaysia Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF) in 2006, with the objective of spearheading wildlife and environment conservation efforts in Malaysia.

The MPOWCF was launched with an initial funding of RM20million of which RM10million is a grant from the Government and the balance of RM10million is provided by the palm oil industry.

The fund is administered by the MPOC, which also has the overall responsibility to manage the various conservation projects funded through MPOWCF.

Since its inception, he said MPOWCF has initiated a number of wildlife and biodiversity conservation projects, adding this has contributed to among others the establishment of the country's first Wildlife Rescue Centre in collaboration with the Wildlife Department.

The other projects are the Jungle Patrol Unit in Tangkulap-Pinangah Forest Reserve, inventory of Sabah's Orang-utan population, the Orang-utan Infant Care Unit in Bukit Merah and the satellite tracking and conservation of Bornean Banteng in Sabah.

These initiatives reflected the commitment by the Malaysian palm oil industry to environment conservation and wildlife in the country, he said.

In addition, the Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary (BEWS) which is in the planning stage is aimed at reducing potential human-elephant conflicts and create a controlled public access sanctuary to better understand and care for these animals.

Dompok also applauded the strong presence of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at the colloquium, both from the local and international fraternity.

"Today, the environment favours a scenario where NGOs can work together with the government and industry, to improve the quality and standard of operations and sustainability," he said, hoping that NGOs would provide alternative perspectives to policies and actions, and give meaningful recommendation on how the government can improve the practices.

This is the constructive approach that we can all look forward to in achieving sustainable growth and environmental conservation, he said, inviting local and international NGOs to assume an active role with the palm oil industry in achieving common sustainable goals.

"I am optimistic that Malaysia can work together with the various NGOs in wildlife conservation and environmental protection," he said.

About 250 local and international delegates from a multitude of backgrounds representing government agencies, NGOs, universities, foundation, zoos as well as corporate bodies primarily in the palm oil industry and tourism are taking part in the SWCC 2012.

Both Ministers also witnessed the signing and exchanging of four memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between the Wildlife Department and MPOC, WWF-Malaysia, The Rhino and Forest Fund and SOS Elefanti, as well as another MoU between the BCT and KTS Plantation Sdn Bhd.



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