KOTA KINABALU: The State government’s decision to scrap the construction of a bridge in Sukau across the Kinabatangan River has earned kudos from international organizations that have supported and continue to support conservation work in Sabah.
Abraham Foundation president Nancy Abraham felt encouraged by the strong commitment shown by the Sabah State Government in protecting habitats, especially in the Kinabatangan landscape that wildlife such as elephants and orang utan call home.
“I want to express my very deepest gratitude to the people of Sabah, especially those from Sukau, Chief Minister Musa Aman and other visionary leaders from Sabah for making the courageous decision to cancel the proposed bridge that would have further divided the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Know that the entire world applauds your decision and salutes Sabah as a true leader in the conservation of our natural world,” Nancy said.
Shared Earth Foundation chief executive officer and president Caroline Gabel said efforts should be focused on creating connectivity for wildlife in the fragmented sanctuary, a move that will also benefit local communities and other stakeholders, including from the agriculture and tourism sectors.
“In the world’s rapidly dwindling space for animals and their habitat, the Sabah Government has stood strong against the trends, declaring that along the Kinabatangan River, all species including but not limited to humans, have a right to live and thrive,” she said.
Caroline who along with Nancy are on the Board of Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) had written to Musa in August last year, expressing their concern that a public bridge would lead to problems rather than help strengthen the integrity of the Lower Kinabatangan.
In their letter, they had raised concerns based on years of scientific work and research by organizations that are based in the Kinabatangan region.
Woodtiger Fund president and co-founder Susan Wallace said it was a wise decision and one that would lead to long term benefits for both people and wildlife.
“I am profoundly grateful to the people of Sabah and their wise leaders for having the vision and courage to cancel the proposed Sukau bridge that would have been detrimental to the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,” Susan said.
“I deeply respect the bold leaders for their commitment to conserve and protect Sabah’s rich biodiversity for future generations and, importantly, for the sake of the wildlife itself. It is a noble, visionary, and enduring deed.
Sabah is very fortunate to possess such magnificent natural beauty. Sabah has demonstrated that it is a conservation model for the world,” added Susan.
The decision to call off the bridge was announced by Chief Conservator of Forests, Sam Mannan during his speech at the South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership dinner held at the Royal Society in London.
Sam was quoted as saying that Musa had taken into consideration all concerns and opinions related to the bridge in arriving at his decision.