KOTA KINABALU: Studies have confirmed that the Sumatran rhinoceros is effectively extinct in the wild after they were no longer sighted in Sabah, says state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
She said the studies were conducted at the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve and Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.
They were carried out by the ministry, through the Wildlife Department, in collaboration with NGOs like the Borneo Rhino Alliance and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia.The studies looked at the population of the Sumatran rhinoceros in both areas as well as in the Ulu Malua Forest Reserve which were previously identified to have a population of these animals.
She said the studies were started in 1978 as part of a Faunal Survey of Sabah and it is still on-going.
Liew said among the methods used to detect the animals are forest exploration and camera traps.
“However, these studies did not find any footprints of the Sumatran rhinoceros or record any photographs of them.
“This means that these areas no longer have a population of the Sumatran rhinoceros,” she said at the Sabah state assembly sitting here yesterday, reports Bernama.
Liew was replying to a question from Calvin Chong Ket Kiun (DAP-Elopura) who asked about a report of the findings of footprints of the Sumatran rhinoceros after 2016 and what steps have been taken about the habitat of these animals.
Liew said the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve and Tabin Wildlife Reserve were still suitable as habitat for the Sumatran rhinoceros.
On another matter, Liew said Hainan Airlines will fly from Guangzhou to the east coast district of Tawau twice per week from July this year.
She said more Chinese tourists are expected to fly into the district in the Boeing B737-800 aircraft with a carrying capacity of 162 passengers.
The duration for this charter route would be 12 months from July, she told reporters during a press conference at the sidelines of the state assembly.
“This is good news to us. We have been promoting ‘Cuti-Cuti Tawau’, so this is the first breakthrough.
“We hope other provinces in China will also do the same thing by coming to Sabah, and not just only to Tawau,” she said, adding that the state will be promoting Sandakan after this.