BAKO National Park, the oldest national park in Sarawak, celebrated its 48th anniversary recently with a carnival of fun and games in line with the theme “Towards Conservation Excellence.”
Sarawak Forestry’s general manager of protected areas and biodiversity conservation, Wilfred Landong, defined conservation as the protection, en- hancement, regeneration and rehabilitation of biodiversity, natural resources and the ecosystem at large.
Taking Bako as an example, he said one of the major aims of the park was to conserve and sustain a viable population of the proboscis monkey.
“At the park you will notice that the shoreline and mangrove forests that provide the habitat and food resources for the proboscis are badly degraded.
“If this continues, once day we will find that we do not have any more proboscis monkeys in the park,” he said.
He added that conservation was a challenging task and efforts needed to be made not only to conserve the 250 proboscis monkeys now in the park but also to protect their habitat as well.
Landong also called for public cooperation in conservation efforts by not hunting protected animals or removing plants from the park.
“There have been cases of illegal removal of flora such as pitcher plants as well as poaching of animals in this park,” he said.
“Although we have rangers to enforce the law, we invite the public to help us by becoming honorary rangers.”
The carnival proceeded with a “Lintang” run across the park, which was open to the Saberkas youth organisation and tourists, as well as a public speaking competition on conservation for secondary school students and a drawing contest for primary school pupils.
Later a telematch featuring conservation-themed games took place on the beach.
Games included “Litterbug”, in which participants raced each other to pick up the most litter on the park’s beach.
There were also games played with forest products, such as the “Entiba” played with a dehusked coconut as a ball and coconut branches as “hockey sticks'“.
A proboscis watch was organised which featured a briefing by a Sarawak Forestry guide for nature lovers.
Besides the proboscis monkey, Bako is also popular for macaques, silver-leaf monkeys, bearded pigs, monitor lizards and birds.
The park is easily accessible from Kuching through a 15-minute boat ride from Kampung Bako near the city.