Sabah in talks with Indonesia over rhino conservation


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has started a conservation discussion with Indonesia in a bid to save and mate their last surviving but ailing female Sumatran rhino.

Despite a slim chance for rhino Iman, State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew met Indonesia’s Kota Kinabalu consul-general head Krishna Djelani to discuss collaborative conservation programmes.

Liew, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, will also visit Indonesia next month to pursue the details to find ways to breed their last rhino.

She said the discussion was in line with the implementation of the provisions of the draft memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Conservation of the Sumatran Rhinoceros.

Apart from Krishna, the others at the meeting included officials from Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) and WWF Malaysia.

Liew said they discussed the Implementa-tion Arrangement between Indonesia’s Envi­ron­ment and Forestry Ministry and Malaysia’s Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry concerning the Collaborative Programme on the Application of Assisted Reproductive Technology in the Sumatran Rhinoceros.

“I am pleased to note Malaysia and Indo­nesia are equally committed to wildlife conservation efforts towards preventing extinction of the Sumatran rhinoceros, which is one of the world’s most endangered species,” Liew added.

Iman, kept at Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, is reportedly sick with massive uterine fibroids.

During the meeting, BORA executive chairman Prof Dr Abdul Hamid Ahmad, its executive director Dr Junaidi Payne, and its veterinarian and field coordinator chief Dr Zainal Zahari Zainuddin briefed them on various scientific methods available for assisted reproduction of rhinos.

Liew also welcomed WWF Malaysia’s desire to financially support the rhino breeding programme within the framework of the MoU.