KOTA KINABALU: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun supports the relocation of the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park as it will allow for better management and beneficial for everyone in the long run.
He said that the current location of the park in Lok Kawi was quite congested and not fully utilised due to its hilly terrain.
“If we are looking ahead, then we have to move to bigger and better forests. Wildlife shouldn’t be contained in small enclosures. It is difficult to see them in real natural habitat in small enclosures,” he told reporters at a Hari Raya Aildifitri celebration yesterday.
He was responding to the Sabah Wildlife Department’s proposal that the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Putatan be relocated to Sugud, Penampang.
Its director, Augustine Tuuga, said the department had held talks with Penampang district officials over the proposal and the relocation of the wildlife park was for the government to decide.
According to Augustine, the proposed site in Sugud is well-suited as the forest covers an area of about 1,618.7 hectares compared to Lok Kawi Wildlife Park’s size of 113.3 hectares.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin however has objected to the proposal to shift the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to Sugud. He claimed that it would be unwise to shift the wildlife park, or commonly referred to as a zoo, as it will cost a lot money and time consuming.
Masidi said the proposal to relocate the park started a few years ago.
“There are a lot of considerations, so it’s not just about whether we want to move, but if the villagers are willing to let go of the land to accommodate the park.
“Personally, I like to plan beyond my lifetime, for future generations. Then yes, I am of the opinion that we need to move,” he said.
The park operates on a RM4.5 budget million annually which takes into account the animals’ food, medication and vitamins supplies and generates about RM1.5 million annually from the entrance fees which goes directly to the state’s coffers.
The park recently came under fire for poor management and bad condition of the animals, but the Wildlife Department has since refuted the claims, claiming that the animals were fed a balanced diet and that some 80 per cent of the animals were rescued or seized wildlife that may have suffered at the hands of their previous owners.
Meanwhile, a resident from Sugud, Carl Mosoom, said the Sabah Wildlife Department has every reason to see the future expansion of the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.
“In all aspects they have contributed much in the well-being of our animals, especially to the endangered category and also in preserving them in their natural and confined habitat,” he said.
“In another word, perhaps their centres are now becoming more of a issue and it is time to expand. Naturally one will expand around its existing area and maybe the Sugud Firewood Reserve is best considered,” he said.
Nevertheless, Carl felt the people and local leaders must be engaged in such a move.
“This must be their first priority to ensure better planning.
“And secondly, the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry has to ensure the welfare of the villages involved in the relocation too,” he said.
“Or in another words the local people there must be given the priority first to benefit and finally either through development or social responsibility I would suggest the Sugud, Mahansung, Tinduuzon and Penapah Kondis will be allocated a land reserve of perhaps 10% each ensuring the government does not undertake a total development size of land but giving back some for the future generations,” he said.
“In brief… everyone must benefit,” he stressed.