Exploring the Heart of Borneo


Long Sukang village enroute to the Bakelalan highlands of northern Sarawak. —STEPHEN THEN/The Star

Long Sukang village enroute to the Bakelalan highlands of northern Sarawak. —STEPHEN THEN/The Star

MIRI: A team of 93 environmental scientists and researchers are going to explore the deep interiors of central Borneo - a mountainous region shared by Sarawak, Sabah and Kalimantan that is dubbed “The Heart of Borneo”.

These experts from local and foreign universities and environmental groups will be carrying out surveys to gather information about the rare flora and fauna found in that region.

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said more in-depth studies needed to be conducted there.

Speaking at a talk held here, he said many parts in the vast central region of Borneo encompassing the Tama Abu mountain range were still unexplored.

“It is said that rare and endangered animals like rhinoceros and temadu (Bosjavanias species of buffalo) have been sighted in the jungles there,” he said.

As such, an expedition team made up of scientists, researchers and nature lovers has been assembled to carry out a detailed ground survey to locate these rare animals.

“The team will carry out in-depth analysis of not just the animals, but also plants, trees and other vegetations growing in the wild there.

The Lun Bawang is an ethnic group found in Central Northern Borneo. They are indigenous to the highlands of northern Sarawak.
The Lun Bawang is an ethnic group found in Central Northern Borneo. They are indigenous to the highlands of northern Sarawak.

“The results of these studies will be used as the basis for the Sarawak Forestry Department to formulate a blueprint for long-term conservation and protection of these rare species of flora and fauna,” he said.

Awang Tengah said the state government welcomed nature lovers who wanted to carry out studies in Sarawak, as they would play a vital role to in the conservation and protection of nature.

“Environmental scientists, ecosystem researchers and nature enthusiasts from local and abroad are welcome to join in this very important mission of protecting our nature.

“This expedition team will go to The Heart of Borneo to confirm the existence of the rhinoceros and temadu and check on their population and locations.

“The locals there had reportedly seen them roaming in the forests,” he added.

“The team will also collect and document the other species of plants and trees there and collect scientific data for analysis.

Apart from flora and fauna, the expedition will also cover indigenous studies.

“The team will also study in details the historical background of the natives there and establish their social origins, traditional practices and way of life. All these will be included in an anthropology survey,” he said.

He emphasised that the data collected would be crucial for the state to plan conservation measures for the area.

Local universities involved in the initiative are Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and the Sarawak Biodiversity Centre among others.

Researchers from Europe, the United States and Asean countries are also in the team.

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