KOTA KINABALU: Along the Kinabatangan River in Sukau lays a gem that holds many of Sabah’s exotic flora and fauna.
Visitors come in large numbers just to get a glimpse of animals such as the nearly extinct pygmy elephants, orangutans and to see for themselves the many wonders of nature the area home to over 300 species of birds, has to offer.
However, beneath these gem in the river and in the nearby villages is an eyesore that one simply cannot ignore – rubbish.
Staff of the Sukau Rainforest Lodge (SRL), a member of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World together with villages held a gotong royong recently, and collected over a 100kg of trash in an hour within a 2km radius from the lodge.
SRL Marketing Manager Nancy Lamau said the clean-up was to raise awareness among staff and the local community on the need to keep the Kinabatangan River clean.
“Sadly, littering has been a big problem and without an effective waste management system in place, locals dispose of their waste and rubbish into the river, thus polluting the waterways,” she said.
The Kinabatangan River in Sukau is a major attraction for foreign tourists because it is home to some of Borneo’s most sought-after wildlife; the orangutan and Borneon pygmy elephants.
Additionally, the river also has 300 species of birds and 29 species of frogs, Nancy said.
“However, it is unfortunate that rubbish is visible along the river and these can be seen by tourists while taking the river cruises,” she said.
Following the clean-up, the volunteers found materials such as plastic bottles, polystyrene containers as well as shampoo and detergent bottles being the most common rubbish thrown into the river.
They also found many clothes, slippers, rubber boots, tyres, metal cans, a TV and a computer from the gotong-royong.
Nancy said the rubbish was sorted and recyclable items were sent to a recycling centre.
SRL hopes that similar programmes can be conducted in the future in collaboration with locals, associations and members of the public.
“Keeping the Kinabatangan river clean needs to be a concerted effort,” she said.