KOTA KINABALU: Areas that are not protected but critical for the movement of wildlife in the fragmented Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary must be retained under forest cover.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said such forested areas were important in providing connectivity for the 26,103 hectares (ha) wildlife sanctuary which is divided into 10 lots along the lower Kinabatangan River.
She said this at the symbolic handing over of 93 ha of land titles in the Lower Kinabatangan from Saraya Co. Ltd, Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) Japan and BCT Sabah to the Sabah Wildlife Department, here Tuesday night.
The total of 93 ha was bought through the contribution of Saraya Co. Ltd and BCT Japan to be gazetted as part of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Today, we have an additional 93 ha that will be added to the existing sanctuary. I am very grateful for the generous contribution of all parties in securing these critical areas.
“I hope you will continue to support Sabah’s conservation efforts,” she said.
Also present were Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Mohd Shafie Apdal, Saraya Co. Ltd President Yusuke Saraya and BCT Sabah Chairman Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu.
Saraya Co. Ltd and BCT Japan had contributed a total of RM9.3 million to Sabah over the last 13 years for several programmes including for the building, upgrading and operations of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary, elephant rescue operations and the purchase of several plots of land.
Christina also acknowledged the 132 ha of land critical for the movement of endangered wildlife in the Lower Kinabatangan that was purchased through the contribution of the international community.
This was done via fund raising organised by the United Kingdom-based World Land Trust (WLT) and also through funds from The Shared Earth Foundation and Abraham Foundation of the United States and local NGO Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP).
These lands were handed over to the Sabah Wildlife Department in 2013 and were currently in the process of being gazetted as part of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
Christina, who is also Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, said the sanctuary is an important wildlife conservation area for the state.
“It is rich in wildlife including iconic species like the Orang utan, Bornean elephant and Proboscis monkeys, just to name a few. It is also a famous nature tourism attraction for Sabah,” she said.