KTS at forefront of orangutan conservation

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SPOTTING a cluster of fresh fruits, little Ting San gingerly made her way down the tree, inching closer to her meal.

FREE SPIRIT:Ting San at the training ground.

In a swift swoop, the young red ape helped herself to some bananas before making her way up to a safe spot to enjoy her food in peace.

Ting San, an orphaned female orangutan, is a ‘resident’ at the Matang Wildlife Centre (MTC). She was first brought there at a very young age and was given 24-hour supervision and care.

Attempts to integrate her with the other primates had failed as Ting San was heavily human-independent. It was this affinity with humans that caused her to be often shunned and bullied by the other orangutans.

To wean the young ape off dependence on humans, dedicated MTC staff started training Ting San to do light activities around the Centre. Small, mock-jungle climbing apparatuses were placed at various locations with a real tree as the centre-piece to develop her climbing proficiency.

She was also taught the rudiments of nest building and ways to recognise and accept natural foods and use simple materials.

Ting San has since shown encouraging progress and MTC staff are confident she can soon be released into the semi-wild surrounding within the National Park.

AMAN: Largest Orangutan at Matang Wildlife Centre.

Adoption

Recently, the young primate was adopted by Pusaka KTS Forests Plantation Sdn Bhd as part of the Heart2Heart (H2H) programme, organised by Sarawak Forestry Corporation. The company has contributed a total of RM30,000 to the rehabilitation centre.

The orangutan conservation awareness initiative gives participants an opportunity to learn from a dedicated team of Sarawak Forestry experts about the challenges of orangutan rehabilitation and related works at MTC and Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

KTS is the first local company to join the programme and its staff were recently given a tour of the Centre by MTC park manager Abang Mutalib Abang Tajuddin who lauded the company for being the first-ever local organisation to embrace the H2H programme since its launching in 2009.

“When H2H started three years ago, only foreign companies showed keen interest in participating in the programme,” he revealed.

Mutalib, who has 28 years experience in related fields and also served at various parks such as Niah National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre and Similajau National Park, said KTS’ example should be emulated by other companies.

“Wildlife conservation is close to the heart of many companies, especially those involved in the timber industry and I believe KTS is among the forefront companies to actively participate in such an activity, and in doing so, has set a good example to others,” he added.

He also urged the corporate sector to take a greater interest in wildlife conservation as this will create good forest management and wildlife protection for the future generation.

As part of the H2H programme, Mutalib gave the KTS staff a short presentation on safety rules before proceeding  to the Orangutan Conservation Centre. There, the participants were assigned tasks such as cleaning and painting cages as well as preparing food for the orangutans.

Leading the group was Pusaka KTS Forests Plantation director Teresa Tang Hie Lie who said the programme offered the company’s staff the best opportunity to experience conservation work.

She pointed out that in line with the company’s principle of good forest management and corporate social responsibility, a conservation awareness programme on wildlife would be held soon.

“In our project areas, we have shown commitment to environmental preservation through programmes drawn up by our own conservation teams.”

For project officer, Stephen Tiong, the programme was an interesting experience, saying it gave him the first opportunity to get “up close and personal” with orangutans.

“The rehabilitation centre focuses on orangutans’ survival capabilities. I found the feeding time especially interesting as I had to climb up to the cage to place the food in it.

“This will help the orangutans look for their own food after their rehabilitation,” he said.

Meanwhile, corporate land development executive, Felicia Ng, commented that the H2H programme paved the way to a closer understanding of conservation works at the rehabilitation centre.

“I greatly admire the park manager and the staff for their devotion to a noble cause.”

She said she felt honoured to be part of KTS as the first local company to be involved in the programme, and hoped more local companies would follow suit.

Ng, along with the other participants, was given a certificate of participation for her contribution to the Sarawak orangutan rehabilitation programme.

To uphold its image as a premier company with internationally recognised standards, Pusaka KTS Forests Plantation recently succeeded in attaining ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management System Certification.

“Under our environmental management system, we prioritise the preservation of the environment at all times. This can only be achieved through various etiquettes such as conserving riparian and buffer zones to preserve the habitats of flora and fauna within logging and plantation areas,” said William Tham, the health, safety & environment executive.

All Pusaka KTS projects adhered strictly to guidelines spelt out by the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB), he added.