Wednesday, May 22

Masidi to launch Borneo Elephant Sanctuary

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KOTA KINABALU: This Thursday will be a historical day of sorts for Sabah when Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism Culture and Environment launches the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) at Lot 8, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Sabah’s first and only Elephant Sanctuary will be a natural-habitat refuge developed to meet the needs of endangered elephants. It is designed specifically for rescued elephants that have been injured due to human and elephant conflict as well as to home orphaned baby elephants.

Here the rescued elephants/orphaned baby elephants will be cared for and whenever possible, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. BES will also become the central hub for elephant conservation and awareness for the general public and visitors to this place.

Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Datuk Laurentius Ambu explained: “The idea of developing a Borneo Elephant Sanctuary began as early as 2000 during the late Datuk Patrick @ Mahadi Andau’s tenure as
director of Sabah Wildlife Department. The vision was further continued by Sabah Wildlife Department until now.”

He further commented: “We are sincerely grateful to The Malaysian Palm Oil Council(MPOC) for being the major and prime funder of the mega conservation project and sharing Sabah Wildlife Department’s vision in Wildlife conservation.

MPOC has pledged RM5.2 million for the development of the BES from its Malaysian Palm Oil Conservation Fund and we anticipate additional funding
from the Malaysian Palm Oil Industry for this once operational.”

Ambu further added: “We are equally indebted to Borneo Conservation Trust Japan and her partners Asahikawa City Municipal Government, Asahiyama Zoo, Saraya Corporation, Hunting World Japan(BCT), Tokio Marine Insurance Corporation, Kirin Beverage Corporation, Taisei Construction Corporation, Asta Corporation, IA Research Corporation, NTT Data Corporation, Teijin Corporation and Yusen Logistics Corporation for covering the construction cost of the Phase 1 of BES amounting to RM 1.6 million.

We will continue to work with our Japanese friends who have been sincerely concerned about the plight of the Borneo Elephant in Sabah and have been tirelessly fundraising for the BES program in Japan.”

Dr Toshinori Tsubouchi, Chairman of Borneo Conservation Trust Japan had this to say, “BCT Japan was established to support Sabah Wildlife Department and BCT in achieving the mission to develop the BES. BCT Japan via Sabah Wildlife Department assisted in terms of funding to develop the first phase of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary with consultative assistance of Dr Gen Bandoh, Director of Asahiyama Zoo, one of the most popular zoos in Japan”.

Tsubouchi continued by saying, “We believe the development is a symbolic achievement by collaboration of the citizens of Malaysia and Japan for realizing our future living in harmony with Borneo Elephants and other wildlife species.”

He also expressed hope that the BES project would serve as a major stepping stone for people of two nations to work together in balancing development and biodiversity conservation in the Island of Mega Diversity.

With regards to the Launch of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary, MPOC CEO, Tan Sri Yusoff Basiron commented, “It gives us great pleasure to be involved in this historic launching of the Borneo Pygmy Elephant. We congratulate the extensive efforts and planning that was triggered by the experts at Sabah Wildlife Department in pursuit of this mammoth task.

When BES is completed it would surely become a showcase and pride of not only Sabah but our entire nation, Malaysia.” Basiron further added that MPOC was proud to be the main sponsor of BES and that it is part of their overall ongoing efforts to create conservation opportunities through their Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF).

Through the establishment of MPOWCF, the palm oil industry has been able to become more involved in several conservation programs throughout Sabah and this has allowed them to create a more harmonious environment whereby precious wildlife can co-exists along with plantation landscapes.

It is their vision that greater involvement would be demonstrated not only from MPOC but also by palm oil industry partners contributing generously towards wildlife conservation.

Datuk Masidi Manjun commented, “My Ministry (Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture) has recognised the value of the Bornean Elewwwphant Sanctuary as one of the strategies to support the Elephant Action Plan 2012-2016 in Sabah. This initiative demonstrates the State Government’s commitment in conservation of the flora and fauna in Sabah.

In promoting the conservation of Bornean Elephants in Sabah, we would like to express our gratitude to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council and Borneo Conservation Trust Japan, including their partners, for their financial support to make the Bornean Elephant Sanctuary a reality in Sabah,” said Datuk Masidi.

He further expressed the ministry’s confidence that with the enthusiasm and continuous support from the conservation partners to the conservation programme of the Borneo elephants, they will be able to leave a living legacy that will continue to captivate the future generation.

“It is strongly hoped though that the big players in the Oil Palm Industry and other Malaysian Corporate bodies can step up to the plate and help in the conservation of our beloved Borneo Elephants. It can be quite embarrassing when a country as far as Japan sees the conservation importance of our elephants, but closer to home it seems not everyone seems to care as much,” he concluded.