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
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
"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,"
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,"
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 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
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.