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Proboscis are worse off
Published on: Friday, February 24, 2017
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Proboscis are worse off
Kota Kinabalu: The survival of the proboscis monkey in Sabah is becoming more urgent now that their numbers are half that of the orang utans. There are presently only 6,000 individuals scattered in pockets of mangrove forests across Sabah, compared to over 12,000 orang utans in the wild, and the numbers are shrinking due to several reasons.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said a pragmatic policy had to be formulated to ensure the conservation of wildlife does not hamper development demanded by the growing population.

"Both population and also wildlife are equally important. And development is not just about building towers but also to ensure that the future generations would also be able to see the wildlife.

"We don't want to see them in the zoos or let them suffer the fate of the Tasmanian tiger which is now gone forever," he said, when launching the three-day Proboscis Monkey International Workshop and Conference, here, Thursday.

A number of local and international experts have converged here to look at and recommend their views to formulate a protection plan for the proboscis monkey in Sabah (pic).

The workshop is organised by the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department and funded by Sime Darby Foundation. The publication of the action plan is expected to be completed in June this year.

Earlier, Sabah Wildlife Assistant Director Dr Sen Nathan said the population of the proboscis monkeys has been declining ever since the last major survey done on them in 2005.

In giving the conference keynote address, he pointed out the population had been scattered around the State and shrinking due to a number of threats namely, forest fragmentation, hunting and loss of habitat from intensified human activities.

"The sight of proboscis monkeys ending up as roadkill is also fast becoming a common sight especially in the East Coast," he said.

Also present were Sime Darby Foundation Chief Executive Officer Yatela Zainal Abidin, Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga and the Danau Girang Field Centre Director Dr Benoit Goossens.

Meanwhile, the Wildlife Department has identified that the Segama River had been used by poachers to access reserves to hunt for elephant ivories.

Tuuga said in its investigation that the river located in Lahad Datu had been used to escape from the authorities.

"The Forestry Department has a guard post there and now they are occupying the area and keeping watch on those moving in and out from Segama,"he said.

He was responding to ongoing investigations carried out against ivory poachers who had killed two rare elephants near the area late 2016.

The department also offered a RM10,000 bounty on any information leading to the arrest of those who are responsible for the crimes.

"We had a couple of tip-offs and raided two homes. No ivories were found in one but in the other, we found ivory that was unrelated to the poaching," said Tuuga.

He also said there had been no update from their Indonesian counterparts over the discovery of ivories smuggled by a woman into that country through Nunukan, off Tawau.

The department had recently requested the Indonesian wildlife authorities to provide the DNA samples to see whether the samples would match with the Pgymy elephants from Sabah.

A woman was stopped in Indonesia at the Nunukan Centre of Immigration and Quarantine for trying to smuggle several ivories via Tawau, according to Indonesian media reports at about the time that the elephants were slaughtered. - Jason Santos


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