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SOS Rhino : In the News : Archived News : June 2002 : JNGOs' efforts in conservation lauded by Sabah

NGOs' efforts in conservation lauded by Sabah


Nancy Lai
June 30, 2002

KOTA KINABALU: The State government appreciates the role of Non-Governmental Organisation's (NGOs) in conservation projects in Sabah although it is still at an early stage.

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Environment, Science and Technology Datuk Karim Bujang said that the participation of these NGOs in heartening.

Speaking at the 2nd Sumatran Rhino conservation Seminar held at Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort yesterday, he said the State government is especially pleased at the NGOs' active role in the conservation of rhinos in Sabah.

"While the conservation and management of natural resources and its biodiversity in the State are vested with government agencies such as the Wildlife Department, Forestry Department and Sabah Parks; NGOs can also play an important role in supporting and complementing the government sector," he said.

According to Karim, public awareness, fund raising and participation in conservation programmes are just some of the contributions of the NGOs.

"We welcome and encourage contributions from NGOs and regard them as partners with similar objectives such as conserving biodiversity and maintaining sustainable livelihood of local communities," he added.

Therefore, he pointed out, as partners NGOs have to keep the faith and ensure that their participation would not be to the detriment of the other party because, he added, it was too easy to pick on issues and sensationalise them to gain mileage.

"But it has been shown time and again that such a course of action is counter productive and self-destructive, Karim stressed

He urged all NGOs to work closely with the government sector in order to achieve their objectives through a win-win situation.

On the rhino, he said that there is no doubt this animal is the most endangered species in Sabah and that their numbers have dwindled to a mere 30 to 50 animals.

"Population surveys by the Wildlife Department indicate that breeding population exists only in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Danum Valley and more recently, in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary," he said.

Karim stressed that with such a small and fragmented population coupled with a low reproductive rate, the viability of the species is of great concern.

"Conservation efforts of the Wildlife Department have therefore focused on in-situ conservation involving protection and management of breeding rhino population within sustainable natural habitats," he said.

He added, "ex-situ conservation to attempt to bring isolated rhinos in unsustainable habitats into captive breeding programme to build up a captive population with long term objective of eventual release to boost wild population was also carried out."

Karim, however, said the State government is also concerned with the conservation of other endangered species such aws the Orang Utan, Probscis monkey, elephant, banteng and marine mammals and reptiles such as the dugong as well as the turtles.

"In this regard, the government is in the process of establishing new protected areas to extend the existing protected area network that already covers about 11 percent of the State," he said, adding that the new area would include the Klias Peninsula and a marine area in Kudat.

According to him, the State government has also passed the Biodiversity Enactment and established the biodiversity center in the Forestry Department as it is necessary to regulate researchers and their work carried out there.

This will also ensure the equitable distribution of any benefits resulting from any research work undertaken in the State, Karim said.

He added the Enactment would also provide protection for the rights of these people to any benefits accruing from their research on medicinal plants used by the locals as traditionnal medicine.



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