KOTA KINABALU: Animal loving engineer Peter Chan has come to Sabah to initiate the setting up of a pangolin research centre and sanctuary, but he would need the public’s assistance to keep the programme afloat.
Chan, a Penangnite who is based in Arizona, United States, said with the help of the Sabah Wildlife Department and state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, have identified Tawau as the location for the centre.
The Sabah Pangolin Sanctuary and Research Institute (Sapsari) founder, gave a RM1mil startup fund, and hopes to get everyone in Sabah to be part of the programme.
“Pangolins are very much under-represented in terms of wildlife protection in the world, and I personally feel that we should take the lead as Malaysians to protect pangolins before they go extinct,” he said.
Chan said, however, since Sapsari is a non-governmental organisation, the only way for the sanctuary and programme to sustain and be successful is to have consistent funding, which is from corporate bodies as well as individuals.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said awareness on pangolin conservation had increased in Sabah over the past years.
“I am sure with the work we are doing in the ministry together with the Wildlife Department, Sabah Parks and all relevant agencies, we will be able to make a change for the better,” she said.
Asked whether the state government will commit to an annual funding to facilitate Sapsari, she said "it will be considered".
Liew said this after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of Sapsari with Chan.
The sanctuary is expected to fully start and cater to public visits by next year, and it will be managed by local pangolin expert Elisa Panjang, as Chan will be based in Arizona.
Earlier, Liew said the state government has taken new initiatives to improve wildlife protection and conservation in Sabah.
“For some of our wildlife such as the pygmy elephants, Sunda clouded leopard, proboscis monkeys and bantengs (wild buffalo), we have drawn up a 10-year action plan to protect these species,” she said.
She said the Sabah Wildlife Department will also be embarking on a two-year conservation programme to do a statewide survey on the Borneo pygmy elephants and orangutan.
“As for the near extinct Sumatran rhinos in Sabah, we will not stop until we find a way to revive this species,” Liew said.