KOTA KINABALU: Following the death of one of its three Sumatran rhinos, Sabah will go all out to protect its remaining endangered animals, starting with the Sunda clouded leopard next.
The leopard is endemic to Sabah.
“We do not want to come down to a similar situation where we only start getting serious when there is only a few of a species left, it will be a bit too late then,” said Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming.
The state suffered a huge blow to its conservation efforts when one of the last three remaining rhinos was euthanised due to cancer earlier this month, he added.
The flora and fauna of Sabah were the gems that attracted visitors here, bringing in income, Pang said when opening a workshop on ways to protect the species here yesterday.
The workshop, which ends tomorrow, is organised by the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).
An action plan to protect the Sunda clouded leopard is expected to be drawn up following recommendations based on findings of a five-year extensive research on the animals conducted by DGFC and SWD.
Pang said DGFC – a collaborative research and training facility managed by the Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University – had identified the Sunda clouded leopard to focus on this time.
Pang said tourists from China (being the most number of visitors coming to Sabah) are showing more interest in nature and related tourisms.
He added that the Sabah Parks would be increasing its conservation tax “very soon” in view of its needs to have more programmes towards the protection of the environment.
DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said the Sunda clouded leopard deserved its fair share of attention as there are only about 700 left in the wild.