KOTA KINABALU: Kapayan assemblyman Dr Edwin Bosi said the step and effort taken by the government to increase the forest cover would come to naught if the ecology and in particular, the wildlife component was not taken into consideration.
Bosi said the government had just passed an Enactment to amend the Forests (Constitution of Forest Reserves and Amendment)(Amendment) Enactment 1984 during the November 2016 Assembly sitting.
This Enactment saw the excision of a Forest Reserve Class I, renaming and extension of Forest Reserves, he added.
He said the extension of Forest Reserve was undertaken to take into account the importance of these forests such as water catchment, high conservation values, rich marine habitat, potential for forest recreation activities, for community development and economic programmes and as wildlife corridor and habitat.
Bosi stressed that wildlife needs habitat and habitat means the forest.
He said now we could see fragmentation of forest and these had caused the separation of wildlife.
The fragmentation has also caused human-wildlife conflict to escalate.
Bosi said wildlife corridors were inadequate for now.
“I hope the government will expand or extend the wildlife corridors within the Heart of Borneo (HoB). If this is realised, wildlife such as the pygmy elephants will not only forage in Sabah but also in Sarawak, Brunei and Kalimantan,” Bosi said, adding the loss of so many pygmy elephants in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve was a step backward in wildlife conservation.
“We also know that our eco-tourism promotion will go nowhere if our wildlife is not protected and conserved.
“The opening up of land for oil palm in elephant habitat brings about human-elephant conflict. It must be addressed by ensuring that companies and contractors involved in land clearing, planting of oil palm or those involve in re-afforestation must be aware of the problem of elephants raiding their areas.”
Bosi said he had raised the issue in the Assembly that all contractors and companies working for Rakyat Berjaya, a company under Sabah Foundation must know how to manage wildlife especially elephants.
In this sense, he pointed out that electric fences should be erected and maintained properly.
They should be working closely with the Wildlife Department, he added.
Bosi said that he expected the Sabah Wildlife Department to brief these contractors and companies on human-wildlife conflict management.
He said contractors and companies cannot wash their hands if wildlife such as the pygmy elephants die within their areas of operation.
“I hope the Wildlife Department can take action against these contractors and companies for failing to take care of the wildlife.
“As for Rakyat Berjaya and Sabah Foundation, it is important to offer the contract to contractors and companies who are reliable and responsible. Those who fail to take care of the wildlife especially the pygmy elephants should be terminated and replaced with those who are more concerned for the wildlife,” he said.
Bosi also said that Sabah Foundation cannot allow anymore pygmy elephants to die in their property (concession area) as this is bad for SF’s reputation and image internationally.