New Era For Sabah’s Wildlife; Stable Governance Benefit Citizens, Nature

Danau Girang Field Centre’s resident flanged male orangutan feeding. – Picture couresy of Richard Burger, PhD student at DGFC

By ROBERT HII
COMMENT: With the political dust settling in Sabah, conservation-minded Sabahans can finally start to look forward to a ‘wilder’ Sabah.

Even as newly appointed Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal gets down to cleaning up the mess and making things right as quoted in Borneo Today on May 18,2018, this is as good a time as any to speak for the forests and wildlife whose protection is not only for conservation minded Sabahans but also for the hundreds of thousands of Sabahans whose livelihoods depend directly and indirectly on the tourism industry.

ROBERT HII

Shafie has already shown an incredible awareness of the conservation mess in Sabah as he articulated on the wildlife crisis in a report published by your paper on May 06, 2018. GE14 Warisan Pledges to Protect Dwindling Wildlife When in Government.

His views and proposed actions was a fresh breath of air for conservation in Sabah which has been neglected for too long.

The pledge of government funding to boost the efficiency of the Sabah Wildlife Department was popularly received. For the first time, the state government is willing to make its own investments into protecting its natural resources instead of leaving it up to conservation groups and what donations they can scrape together to save the elephants and orangutan in Sabah.

FLASHBACK: Seven of the nine pachyderms that died after being trapped inside a disused quarry pond in Rinukut, off the Kalabakan-Keningau road in Tawau. Only two adults survived.

Dr Sen Nathan from the Sabah Wildlife Department has long griped about the absence of government funding for conservation. An outspoken character and very public face of the wildlife department, let us hope that he gets to put his thoughts into ground action.

Newly appointed Minister of Tourism and Environment, Christina Liew should find him a good foot soldier in carrying out the new mandate to save wildlife in Sabah.

For now, the last bit of political drama needs to be put away quickly so that the work of saving Sabah’s natural resources can begin with the urgency it needs. International reports have long said that conservation must include government, civil society and industries.

With the Warisan party leading Sabah into the immediate future, there is great optimism for clean, stable governance which will benefit both her citizens and nature.

• Robert Hii is a Sarawak-born Canadian Conservationist who through his NGO Friends Of Borneo help In Wildlife Conservation Programs in Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan

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