KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will not give up on attempts to collaborate with Indonesia in Sumatran rhino conservation efforts despite failed past endeavours.
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister and state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew (pic) reiterated plans on meeting Indonesian Consul General to Kota Kinabalu, Krishna Djelani, next week to pave the way for a visit to Indonesia towards this purpose.
"He (Krishna) has been helpful and will finalise for us.
"We want to commence negotiations with Jakarta's Wildlife Department. We will also go to Aceh besides Jakarta, I was told there are over 50 rhinos (in the wild in Indonesia)," she told reporters at the Chief Minister and Sabah Cabinet's open house on Sunday (June 9).
Asked how confident she was about the matter, she said, "I was told it has been negotiated over a decade. I was told there were 13 MoUs but I don't know why it did not come through.
"I hope to renegotiate considering that there is only one female rhino left in Malaysia and she is sick," she added.
She said the starting point will be from the previous MoUs and what needed to be amended or adjusted.
"We are open to the terms and conditions. My objective is clear - let's close the deal with Indonesia to assist us in the rhino issue," she said.
There are about seven rhinos in captivity in Indonesia while Malaysia only has one female rhino, Iman which is kept at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah.
The species, which is endemic to Borneo, is believed to be extinct in Malaysia and no longer roam in the wilds in Sabah.
On the remains of the male rhino, Tam, who recently died believed to be due to health issues related to old age, Liew said preliminary works had started to preserve the body with plans to have it displayed at the Sabah Museum in the state capital.
"It could be a crowd puller where local Sabahans and tourists alike will be able to see the actual size of a Sumatran rhino.
"In fact, there are plans to expand the exhibition in the museum so that wildlife animals that died could be put on display there," she added.
The taxidermy works on Tam is expected to take a few months.
Liew said Sabah's tourism sector in general needed an overhaul with a special emphasis on cleanliness.
Asked about ocean thrash drifting to Pulau Sipadan in Sabah's east coast, Liew said she plans to make a surprise visit there and find ways to resolve it.