Tuesday, October 3

Govt to persevere in saving rhinos from extinction – Masidi


LOK KAWI: The state government will not give up on saving the Bornean Sumatra rhinoceros from going extinction.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidin Manjun said among the efforts that had already been undertaken was to ensure that the species was protected at its natural habitat.

At the same time, the government has also begun a breeding programme which is being carried out at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin.

“We have forged international collaborations to help us with the breeding programme and we hope it will help to increase the population in the future,” Masidi said during the 50th anniversary celebration in the protection of wildlife in Sabah at Lokkawi Wildlife Park near here yesterday. He was presented by his deputy minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombi.

It is estimated that Sabah presently has 10 rhinoceros left in the wild.

According to Kamarlin, Sabah was now faced with the possibility of losing its Borneo Sumatra rhinoceros as its population was now at a worrisome level.

The state government, represented by Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, attended the First Asian Rhino Range State Meeting at Bandar Lampung, in Indonesia recently.

Dr Laurentius, during the meeting there, said Malaysia risked losing the only Asian rhino that she has, the Sumatran rhino, unless a concerted global effort to save it was achieved by the end of this decade.

He said it was believed that there were probably as low as 10 individual rhinos left in the wild in Sabah presently.

“Doing nothing except increasing habitat protection would be the final nail in the coffin of the Sumatran rhinos’ extinction. There are just too few number of individuals coupled by infertile rhinos, old rhinos, skewed sex ratio and insufficient breeding to just leave them to their own devices in the wild,” he said.

He added that the only consensus was that we have to act quickly to boost Sumatran rhino births and Sabah had decided that there was now an urgent need to get as many (if not all remaining) rhinos into fenced, managed conditions as soon as possible so that every rhino can be closely monitored and treated as necessary, to get them producing embryos.

“The exact location where the rhinos are kept is not a paramount concern for the programme. It does not necessarily be in Sabah. We can move rhinos between facilities as long as the care is always world class and the intention is to breed rhinos. I do believe that at this stage, both Malaysia and Indonesia can and should take lead roles on this. Besides this we should leave no stones unturned; and all scientific options available to save the Sumatran rhino must be explored no matter how controversial,” he said.