KOTA KINABALU: Sabah does not need a new wildlife breeding area and should focus on enforcement efforts against poaching and wildlife trade instead, says Sabah Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia deputy chief Datuk Masidi Manjun.
The former Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister also said the state does not have sufficient land to convert into a safari park.
He was commenting on the statement by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal during the recent Hari Raya Aidiladha, where he said that the state will identify a site for wildlife breeding to improve rehabilitation efforts for local species here.
During the sidelines of the state assembly sitting last week, state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said they were looking at the possibility of a safari park in Sabah.
She had visited Taman Safari Indonesia in Bogor, Indonesia during a four-day working visit to the Republic which started on Thursday (Aug 8).
"In fact, we have a huge area of First Class Forest Reserves (Totally Protected Area) that has been gazetted for the protection of flora and fauna. They serve as a wildlife sanctuary and breeding ground.
"The Forest Enactment prohibits the hunting wild of wild animals, among others. The issue is basically the effectiveness of our enforcement efforts, " Masidi told The Star.
"A wildlife safari is a slightly different concept. It can be both a conservation/breeding centre for protected animals, as well as recreational place for visitors and tourists.
"Commercial considerations have to be an integral part of a financially-viable safari, " he said in his written reply.
The Karanaan assemblyman reminded that in the past, there were suggestions to shift the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park here to a much bigger area in Sugut, Penampang and turn it into a wildlife safari park concept.
"There were two issues then; the cost and the land status of the forest reserve which is a native firewood reserve.
"With the exception of Sugut, we do not have good forested land of sufficient acreage (within reasonable travelling distance from Kota Kinabalu) that can easily be converted to a safari park, not to mention the hilly and mountainous terrain of the state.
"It is more challenging and expensive to create a safari park on a non-flat land, " he added.