KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Pangolin Sanctuary and Research Institute (Sapsari), to be based in Tawau, received RM1mil from retired Malaysia-born, US-based engineer Peter Chan who first mooted the idea for the institute.
The Penangite, who lives in Arizona, urges other Malaysians to support and contribute to Sapsari.
“Pangolins are very much under-represented in terms of wildlife protection, and I personally feel we should take the lead as Malaysians to protect pangolins before they go extinct,” he said.
Chan, along with State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew, yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the creation of Sapsari.
Liew said awareness on pangolin conservation had increased in Sabah in recent years.
“I am sure that 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 annual funding to facilitate Sapsari, she said “it will be considered”.
The sanctuary, to be managed by local pangolin expert Elisa Panjang, is expected to be fully operational and opened to the public next year.
Liew also said the state government has taken initiatives to improve wildlife protection and conservation in Sabah.
“For some of our wildlife such as the pygmy elephants, Sunda clouded leopards, proboscis monkeys and bantengs (wild buffalo), we have drawn up a 10-year action plan to protect these species,” she added.
She said the Sabah Wildlife Department will also be embarking on a two-year conservation programme to do a statewide survey on Borneo pygmy elephants and orang utan.
“As for the near extinct Sumatran rhinos in Sabah, we will not stop until we find a way to revive this species,” Liew added.