Sabah centre for Bornean large mammals study
Kota Kinabalu – Research on the little known Borneo pygmy elephants, Sumatran rhinoceros and orang-utan requires a programme that covers the whole Bornean land area, WWF-Malaysia said today.
Their newly-formed Borneo Species Programme will begin work by focusing on the three large terrestrial mammals found on the island. WWF-Malaysia will run the programme from its Kota Kinabalu office and will work directly with the Sabah Wildlife Department and other stakeholders. Previously, the SOREL (Sabah Orang-utan Rhinoceros Elephants Landscape) project managed the species work of the WWF-Malaysia in Sabah.
“The time is now right to start the Borneo Species Programme, which crosscuts the Kinabatangan – Corridor of Life and the transboundary Heart of Borneo. Before, SOREL limited our work to Sabah,” says Raymond Alfred, Project Manager for the Borneo Species Programme during the luncheon dubbed ‘An Afternoon with WWF-Malaysia’ at a leading hotel here.
Work on pygmy elephants, rhinos and orang-utan started in Sabah since 1979 with the ‘Faunal Survey of Sabah’ conducted by WWF-Malaysia. The study confirms that the habitats of all three mammals are threatened by forest loss and land development.
To date, a total of 11 pygmy elephants have been collared with tracking devices since 2005 for scientific study. Satellite tracking data has had a huge influence on land use planning particularly in Ulu Segama Malua. WWF-Malaysia’s orang-utan work is in partnership with the government and other NGOs, whereas work on the near extinct Sumatran rhino gets additional support by the private sector such as Honda Malaysia. Today, WWF-Malaysia was tasked to lead in the preparation of management plan for rhino conservation in Sabah.
There is an estimated 25-50 rhinos left in Sabah. Work is currently being planned to find out whether a rhino population exists in Sarawak as they did thousands of years ago. The method used in Sabah has been successful with infrared camera traps generating never before seen images and footages of the Sumatran rhino. WWF-Malaysia hopes to apply the same concept for Sarawak.
WWF-Malaysia Borneo Programme’s species work is supported by WWF-Netherlands, WWF-UK, WWF-Germany and WWF-US, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Honda Malaysia.
“We are fortunate that the global WWF network pays a huge attention to Borneo, and we believe that we have the resources to expand our work to our neighbouring state, Sarawak,” Dr. Rahimatsah Amat, Chief Technical Officer for WWF-Malaysia Borneo Programme.
For further information, please contact:
Hana S. Harun, Communications Officer, Heart of Borneo Programme, WWF-Malaysia
Tel (O): +6088 262 420 / E-mail: HSHarun@wwf.org.my