Wednesday, March 29

Sarawak to build a second wildlife rehabilitation sanctuary


KUCHING: Sarawak will have another wildlife sanctuary, the second in the state to meet the needs of wildlife rehabilitation.

The ‘Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary’ rehabilitation centre to be built in Sibuti, Miri will house all the protected and endangered species of animals rescued in the northern part of the state.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd (SFC) chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said all the animals that had been rescued throughout the state were being sent directly to the Matang Wildlife Centre in Kuching.

“Imagine having to send animals rescued in Miri all the way to Kuching, which is over 1,000 kilometres away.

“Apart from the long journey that is stressful to animals, it also costs a lot, so building this centre in Sibuti is a necessity,” he told Bernama.

Zolkipli said with the construction of the sanctuary, the care of the animals would be divided into two parts, the central part of Sarawak from Bintulu to Miri, and the other part covering Kuching to Sibu.

He said the construction of the wildlife centre was approved under the 11th Malaysia Plan with an allocation of RM2 million.

“For the record, apart from Sibuti, we did apply for the building of this rehabilitation centre in Sibu and Lawas under the 11th Malaysia Plan, but the government has approved for the one in Sibuti. Now, we only have one in Matang,” he said.

He said the addition was a necessity because the Matang wildlife centre, which has been operating since 1996, does not have enough space to house wildlife in need of rehabilitation.

“This place also needs to be repaired and upgraded,” he said.

He said there was only one wildlife rehabilitation facility in Sarawak, specially for the Orangutan. The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, established in 1972 functioned as an orangutan conservation centre for research, environmental learning and eco-tourism.

“For now, rescued Orangutans are placed in Matang Wildlife Centre. Once the animals show semi-wild and self-sufficient qualities they will be transferred to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre,” he said.

He did not rule out the possibility that these centres under the SFC could serve as eco-tourism sites and sources of income to cover their maintenance costs, but he warned it was not a zoo.

“The centre is a conservation area that involves quarantine, training and release of animals but remains monitored so that these animals can breed,” he said. — Bernama