Kota Kinabalu: Combating a serious transnational crime like wildlife trafficking is in Malaysia's interest not only because it is a party member to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) but also it is committed to fulfilling the requirement and obligation set forth under the provisions of CITES, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Palanivel.
"It has been in our interest because we understand that this activity has affected the world's precious biodiversity," he said at a luncheon he hosted for delegates of the Regional Asean Forum (ARF) Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking co-chaired by Malaysia and the US Embassy at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort on Tuesday.
"In order to protect it, collaboration from all countries, governments or organisations are crucial as wildlife trafficking involves an extensive and complex network and is a serious transnational crime," he added.
Palanivel presented a mock cheque for RM100,000 to Deputy Minister of Culture, Tourism and Environment, Datuk Pang Nyuk Ming, who received it on behalf of the State Government, towards the artificial breeding programme of the Sumatran rhino.
"The Sumatran rhinoceros is the most ancient line species amongst five living rhinoceros species now on the verge of extinction," he said.
"Its horns which have been traded from equatorial Asia to China for at least 2000 years is now critically endangered with extinction," he added.
"The only hope for the species lies in bringing as many individuals as possible into captive, closely managed facilities, and to use advanced reproductive technologies," Palanivel said.
He cited the partnership between the State Government, the Sabah Wildlife Department and specialists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany and Avantea laboratories in Italy, together with local financial supporter Sime Darby Foundation and NGO Borneo Rhino Alliance, to make a last-ditch attempt to create a Sumatran rhino embryo in the lab.
If successful methods for artificial insemination can be developed for the last few fertile females and males, and if embryos can be implanted into surrogate mothers (rhinos of other species in zoos), the hope remains," he said.
He praised the tireless efforts of the Sabah State Government through the Sabah Wildlife Department and its partners to conserve these high-valued species.
Palanevil said his Ministry would present a paper on Conservation Efforts to Impede the Extinction of Sumatran Rhinoceros and Other Endangered Species in the National Biodiversity Council, the highest government platform, to discuss issues related to biodiversity conservation which will be chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.
"I believe this will lead to a stronger collaborative partnership between the Federal Government and the State Government of Sabah to ensure the continuity of our natural heritage in the future," Palanevil concluded.
Meanwhile, BORA Executive Director Datuk Junaidi Panye welcomed the Federal Government stepping into the rhino breeding efforts as it is likely to evolve into more and greater support in the years ahead, Payne told Daily Express.