By Ruben Sario
KOTA KINABALU - Malaysian movie star Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh is taking on the role as spokesman for wildlife conservation in her homeland.
For a start, the Ipoh-born Bond girl will be involved in a documentary on Sabah's wildlife conservation efforts.
"I hope to get this off the ground soon," she said after addressing the ASEAN Regional Forum's workshop on combating wildlife trafficking at Tuaran near here.
Yeoh is Malaysia's international ambassador for orang utan conservation and patron of the Save China's Tigers project.
She said she was impressed by Sabah's efforts to protect orang utan.
"There is still a lot more to be done, including getting the wildlife corridors going to enable orang utan and other animals to move among the pockets of forests in the east coast of Sabah," she said.
Earlier in her speech, Yeoh said poaching and wildlife trafficking had reached alarming levels and international co-operation in tackling the problem was crucial.
"It is extremely important to recognise that illegal wildlife trade is a serious crime that is not only decimating critically endangered species but is also a pervasive instrument in destabilising economic and political security," she said.
Yeoh added that organised criminal syndicates were stealing and slaughtering elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, pangolins and sea turtles, as well as large numbers of other species, in a way never seen before.
"They are killing these animals, sometimes in high numbers, sometimes using weapons of war like semi-automatic rifles," she said, adding that these criminals were pushing many species towards extinction.