KOTA KINABALU: International groups are pledging their support for Sabah’s conservation efforts following the state government’s decision to scrap a second bridge across the Kinabatangan river in Sukau.
Various organisations involved in the conservation of the biodiversity-rich lower Kinabatangan gave Sabah government the thumbs up for its seriousness in preserving the area.
Woodtiger Fund president and co-founder Susan Wallace said it was a wise decision and one that would lead to long-term benefits for both people and wildlife.
“Sabah is very fortunate to possess such magnificent natural beauty.
“Its leaders have acted boldly in their commitment to conserve and protect Sabah’s rich biodiversity for future generations and, importantly, for the sake of the wildlife itself,” she said, adding that Sabah was a conservation model for the world to follow.
US-based Abraham Foundation president Nancy Abraham said she felt encouraged by the strong commitment shown by the state government in protecting the Kinabatangan landscape whose wildlife included elephants and orang utan.
“I want to express my very deepest gratitude to the people of Sabah, especially those from Sukau, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and other visionary leaders from Sabah for making the courageous decision to cancel the proposed bridge that would have further divided the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
“Know that the entire world applauds your decision and salutes Sabah as a true leader in the conservation of our natural world,” she added.
Shared Earth Foundation chief executive officer and president Caroline Gabel said efforts should be focused on creating connectivity for wildlife in the fragmented sanctuary.
She said such a move would also benefit local communities and other stakeholders, including from the agriculture and tourism sectors.
In the world’s rapidly dwindling space for animals and their habitat, the Sabah government has stood strong against the trends, declaring that along the Kinabatangan river, all species including but not limited to humans, have a right to live and thrive,” Gabel added.
Abraham and Gabel along with Sabah-based Land Empowerment Animals People were among various groups that wrote to the Chief Minister to express their concern about the Sukau bridge having adverse effects on lower Kinabatangan.
In their letter, they had raised concerns based on years of scientific work and research by organisations that are based in the Kinabatangan region.
Last week, Sabah announced at the South-East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership meeting at the Royal Society in London that they were scrapping the Sukau bridge project.
Sabah forest chief conservator Datuk Sam Mannan disclosed Musa’s decision after taking into account all views including naturalist Sir David Attenborough in its decision to scrap the RM223mil project.