KOTA KINABALU: No Sumatran rhinoceros have been detected in Sabah by the latest surveys, indicating that the species may have become extinct.
However, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew expressed optimism that these habitats remained suitable for this species during the question-and-answer session in the state assembly sitting on Wednesday (April 17).
"My ministry, through the Wildlife Department, has in the past collaborated with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like Borneo Rhino Alliance and WWF Malaysia to conduct rhino population surveys at the forest reserves of Ulu Segama and Ulu Malua as well as Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and identified as the key areas for this species.
"It started in 1978 when Faunal Survey of Sabah started, and it is still ongoing.
"Amongst the methods are forest exploration and camera traps to detect the presence of rhinos.
"However, these studies did not find any rhino footprints, and the cameras did not record any pictures either – meaning these areas no longer have rhinos," she said in response to a question by Calvin Chong Ket Kiun's (DAP-Elopura) on whether there had been any reports of rhino footprints after 2016.
"However, I would like to inform you that Ulu Segama forest reserve and Tabin wildlife reserve remained suitable as a habitat for this species, even though the rhino population no longer exists," added Liew.
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