Wildlife NGO embarks on dolphin conservation project

Confirmed sighting: A small pod of Irrawaddy dolphins seen in Tawau coastal waters. (Photo courtesy of Shavez Cheema).

KOTA KINABALU: A team of conservationists is embarking on a dolphin conservation project by engaging with local communities.

Shavez Cheema, founder of 1StopBorneo Wildlife, said he sighted dolphins in Sabah’s waters during his research on frogs and mammals.

“A partner of mine who specialises in the study of insects has also reported seeing dolphins in residential areas close to the sea, ” he said.

He said there was a need to create more awareness about dolphins and felt that the best way to protect and conserve them was through engagement with locals.

1StopBorneo Wildlife aims to develop new ways to save animals, among others.

Cheema said there were four main dolphin species seen in Sabah waters – the Irrawaddy dolphin (measuring 2.5m), the finless porpoise (1.9m), the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (3.9m) and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (2.8m).

He said their wildlife team will investigate populations of these animals in estuaries and bays through the Sabah Dolphin Conservation Project.

Locals can get more involved through education and job creation via conservation tourism, he added.

In conservation tourism, the knowledge held by local fishermen would be valuable as they could be hired to guide tourists on dolphin-spotting safaris, he said.

This would provide an additional source of income for the fishermen, he added.

Cheema said the second component of the project was to raise awareness among coastal communities about the impact of human activities on dolphins.

This could be done, for example, by working with schools to develop “plastic bag free” policies, he said.

“Our engagement with these communities, making use of their knowledge of the coast, will enable them to help us monitor the dolphin population and behaviour.”

Cheema said an additional benefit of “dolphin watching” was that local folk would be able to patrol estuaries, bays and coast to spot illegal fishing.

“By studying dolphins, we hope to obtain further evidence of ecological change, ” he said.

At one of the NGO’s proposed sites in Sabah, the 1StopBorneo Wildlife team recorded up to 30 individual dolphins that were not in large pods during a day-long observation of the mammals.

They hope to include night surveys, using mounted spotlights, to broaden their understanding of dolphin movement and behaviour.

“The Irrawaddy dolphins and humpback dolphins have already been regularly observed by members of our project team and, interestingly, sometimes dolphins have been recorded close to the shoreline and villages, ” he said.

If successful, their Sabah survey will be expanded to other parts of the Borneo coast, including Sarawak, Brunei and Indonesia, and would involve working with other conservation groups.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights

Next In Nation

Ismail Sabri: Two factories, 11 business premises ordered to close for violating SOP
King can only call for Parliament to reconvene on the advice of Cabinet, says AG
Covid-19: All vaccines used in M'sia suitable for pregnant, lactating mothers, says JKJAV
A fish story that didn't fly: Lorry driver and attendant nabbed for transporting ketum leaves
Sabah Rela director: We carry out duties quietly behind the scenes
Police looking for women who swiped costume jewellery from display rack outside shop
Over 15,000 people register for vaccination at Community Internet Centres, says MCMC
Two Sibu women conned of RM25,000 in separate love scams
Pakatan maintains stand that Emergency should end on Aug 1, says presidential council
Hamzah: Massive crackdown against factories, business premises for SOP non-compliance to be launched soon

Stories You'll Enjoy