KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife conservation management in Sabah will be completely restructured to tackle the dwindling population of species that are under threat due to poaching and loss of habitat, if Parti Warisan Sabah is voted into government.
The exercise will comprise of an injection of RM15 million, or more, over a period of five (5) years to modernise, upgrade and re-equip the Sabah Wildlife Department.
It will be utilised to improve the department’s core activities of enforcement, wildlife monitoring, addressing human-wildlife conflict, enhancing awareness on wildlife conservation as well as research and capacity building.
With 225 officers and rangers, the department is critically understaffed and ill equipped to manage the current wildlife crisis in Sabah but Warisan has plans to increase manpower by 25 percent.
Further, it will enhance professional relationships with local and foreign wildlife conservation and research organisations and NGOs to boost Sabah’s reputation in wildlife conservation globally.
“There are many glaring issues that show the incompetency of the present Sabah government in managing the state’s rich natural resources which has had an adverse effect on the natural wildlife habitats,” said Shafie Apdal, the Warisan president,.
As a result of this ineptness, the Bornean Rhinoceros is now extinct in the Wild in Sabah and the state’s only wild cattle, the Bornean Banteng or Tembadau is critically under threat.
The majestic Bornean Elephant has not been spared either. Based on a 12-year-old population data, Sabah has only about 2000 Bornean elephants.
Its population is dwindling because many wild Bornean Elephants have been either shot or poisoned in the past 5 years.
Increasing human-elephant conflict in Telupid, Kinabatangan, Tawau and Lahad Datu does not augur well for the future of Bornean Elephants in Sabah.
Sabah’s iconic Bornean Orangutan, a wildlife species that has been used as a mascot for many national programmes and one of the most popular tourism draw for visitors has declined considerably in numbers.
According to a recent scientific paper that was published in the Current Biology Journal, there were 100,000 Orangutan killed in Borneo in the last 16 years. Out of that number, more than 6,000 died in Sabah alone.
Poaching has reached pandemic proportions, evident from the alarming number of cases encountered in many fully protected areas that shelter the remaining pristine forests and wildlife of Sabah.
It is no longer just a matter of self-indulgence for personal consumption but feeds the very lucrative but illegal global trade of wildlife products.
“We must take urgent steps if Sabah’s wildlife is to survive and a Warisan government has every intention to do that,” added Shafie.