KOTA KINABALU: The survival of at least 300 Bornean elephants at the Lower Kinabatangan Mega Biodiversity Corridor is at risk due to limitation of suitable habitat.
They are also constantly in danger due to human-elephant conflict.
Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) Chairman, Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok said during a meeting with Felda Global Ventures (FGV) at the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) that the Sabah Mega Biodiversity Corridor Project has outlined the tasks that need to be undertaken to save the elephants from any further threats.
The project focusing on the East-Southern part of Sabah and covers the Kinabatangan and Segama river catchments, among others, expresses the need to secure and restore all key migratory route to reduce human-elephant conflicts as well as identify alternative approaches that would support the management of existing natural forest as well as corridor for wildlife and biodiversity.
He explained that the key corridor in the project will act as the “link” that will allow the flagship species to migrate between key habitat areas.
According to Dompok, they also hope to garner financial and technical support from all the corporate sectors and private companies through the project.
There are presently about 2,000 Bornean elephants found throughout Sabah.
Dompok then expressed the need for the State to take the lead role in supporting the re-establishment and restoration of the key corridors and enhance the State and country’s image in wildlife and biodiversity conservation.
He mentioned that in the past, the plantation sectors, in particular the oil palm industry has been blamed for the decline of the Orang Utans and Bornean elephant population.
Most of the human-elephant conflicts in Sabah have occurred at plantations.
Pontian United Plantations Berhad (PUP) Group Chief Executive Officer, Denys Collin Munang cited that PUP has been involved in conservation work at the Lower Kinabatangan since the early 2000 with the WWF-Malaysia. PUP is a subsidiary of FGV.
He stated that PUP was interested to continue its collaboration with BCT and SWD in linking the wildlife corridor while at the same time support the socio-economic development of the local community residing along the corridor.
At the meeting, Munang also principally agreed the following recommendations to the FGV management.
These include providing support to the protection and management of riparian reserve at the PUP and FGV Plantation Ecosystem; support the wildlife, in particular the Bornean Elephants and high conservation value forest monitoring programme support the development plan for Batu Putih Ecological Corridor, and focus in the provision of alternative livelihood to the local communities; and finally, to support the implementation of strategic awareness programme for young children as well as for the professional and corporate groups.
Munang cited that FGV has recently released its inaugural sustainability report on June 16.
“The sustainability report expresses FGV’s continued commitment to build on its legacy and to sustainable business practices. It also expresses its strategic blueprint to be one of the top ten agri-based businesses in the world.”
Meanwhile, the five-year Sabah Mega Biodiversity Corridor Project was initiated by BCT and SWD. It aims to enhance and promote the involvement of plantation companies and local communities in creating a network of forest corridors that will enable Bornean elephants and Orang Utans to migrate safely between key forest habitats, avoid human-elephant/orangutan conflict and protect critical elephant and Orang Utan habitat. Indirectly this initiative will also benefit other wildlife, and provide alternative livelihood for the local community, to support the protection and conservation of the mega biodiversity corridor in Sabah.
Also at the meeting were Sabah Wildlife Department director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, BCT Executive Secretary, Dr Raymond Alfred, FGV Plantation Sustainability and Quality Management Head, Norazam Abdul Hameed, Felda Agricultural Services’ Sustainability General Manager, K. Ilangovan, General Manager Special Projects, Sean Andrew Labansing and Mark A. Martin (Senior Manager of Pontian United Plantation Berhad).