KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is identifying a suitable area in the state to rehabilitate wild animals in a bid for better wildlife conservation.
Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he has instructed state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew to identify areas that would be suitable for such conservation purposes, including to breed near-extinct Sumatran rhinos and pygmy elephants.
Thanking the Indonesian government for their pledge to help save the Sumatran rhinos by agreeing to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for this purpose, he said it was the only move available to save the species from extinction.
For the state government’s part, he said they want to emulate Africa, where some 1, 000 acres of land has been set aside for elephants to roam freely.
“The proposal not only allows wildlife to breed freely but it can also attract tourists, ” Shafie said after the Hari Raya Aidiladha prayers in Semporna yesterday.
He said forests in Sabah should also be protected and preserved as they are wildlife sanctuaries.
“Forests provide a food source for animals too, ” said the Senallang assemblyman.
Due to the loss of their natural habitat, these wildlife will start to wander closer to the villages, resulting in human-animal conflicts, he added.
He said the government must also try to protect animals as they are an important part of the ecological system.
Shafie also said that the move was in line with the government’s intention to protect and ensure the survival of wildlife which are always considered the “treasures” of the state.
The area to be gazetted and suitable for a wildlife habitat and breeding ground will especially be important for endangered animals, Shafie added.
“This area can also be a big tourist attraction where visitors will now be able to see the efforts taken by the state to preserve and protect wildlife in Sabah, ” he said.