Tigabu At Its Best
“Tigabu is a beautiful island,” says Amir bin Hassan, village head of this tiny island in the eastern-most corner of the proposed Tun Mustapha Park (TMP). “Visitors often give compliments on how gorgeous it is.”
Amir has been village head of Tigabu for about 20 years. He first came to the island in the ’80s, met his future wife and has never looked back. He has grown a deep fondness for the island and treats everyone on it as his own family.
“The treasures of the proposed TMP lie not only in its beauty but also in the seafood it provides for the communities living within the area, ecotourism opportunities, and activities such as fish and sea cucumber farms,” Amir says.
“We are blessed with natural treasures in our coral reefs and sea turtles that we believe are potential tourism attractions which need to be protected so that tourism can come to the island. However, the current situation in which corals are used for sea cucumber farms are unfortunately affecting our coral reefs and sea turtles. Here in Tigabu, we want sustainable ecotourism and would like to work with WWF-Malaysia and government agencies like Sabah Parks to achieve that,” continues Amir.
The residents of Tigabu realise the island is their responsibility, so they constantly patrol around the island for unsustainable activities. They want to continue doing their part for their environment and keep themselves updated with new methods to conserve their beautiful island.
They are now learning that keeping sea cucumber farms can be done in a sustainable way, and that participating in sustainable livelihood programmes will not impact their lives negatively and will also help the environment tremendously at the same time.
“We are keen to promote the uniqueness found here. We are especially proud of our waterfall, sea cucumber and fish farms, and mangrove trees. Sometimes, turtles come to shore and lay their eggs. Our houses are built on stilts so turtles lay eggs right underneath some of our homes – if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot them,” Amir continues.
Tigabu definitely has a lot to offer. Visitors can enjoy the clear seas, dive the reefs or swim among the mangroves, take a mini hike to the other side of the island, appreciate the gorgeous waterfall, help with the sea cucumber farms, visit and feed the fish in the fish farm, as well as indulge in a delicious meal at a restaurant with a beautiful view of the sea.
Every turn on the island is a photo waiting to be captured.
“We welcome WWF-Malaysia’s guidance to ensure that any form of livelihood is developed in a sustainable manner,” Amir says. “We believe that humans should live in harmony with nature and we look forward to working with the team in WWF-Malaysia to help us achieve that.”
By Kimberly Chung, Communications & Campaign Officer, WWF-Malaysia Marine Programme