KINABATANGAN: The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) is continuing its collaboration with Cardiff University for another ten years with the signing of an extension of their Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the management of Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), located in Lot 6 of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
The MoU was signed by Director of DGFC, Dr Benoit Goossens on behalf of Cardiff University while the Sabah Wildlife Department was represented by its Senior Officer for Kinabatangan District Hussien Muin at the DGFC on Monday.
“The signing of this extension for another ten years acknowledges an extremely successful relationship between the Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University,” said Datuk Pang Yuk Ming, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, who witnessed the signing.
“I was told by Dr Goossens that the field centre is now welcoming an average of ten field courses per year from different universities in the World (USA, UK, Germany, Hong Kong),” he said.
“This is testament to all the hard work that the staff at the centre have put in. The field centre also welcomes numerous students from masters to PhDs, including several from Malaysia, whom I had the opportunity to meet,” he added.
“Moreover, it employs 16 staff, including 13 locals and it has set up its own River Keeper Unit to assist the Sabah Wildlife Department in its wildlife enforcement work,” Pang said.
Meanwhile, Goossens said: “We value our collaboration with the Sabah State Government extremely highly and this day marks another major event in that collaboration.
“It hardly seems possible that the centre has been open for five years already: progress has been excellent during that time thanks to the hard work of my team, our centre manager Mark Rampangajouw and my dedicated staff and students,” he added.
Goossens also said a number of university field courses, school visits, expeditions and research activities had been carried out at the centre during the past five years and funds had also been raised from international and national bodies such as the Sime Darby Foundation and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.
“The centre is financially self-sustaining and I am confident that DGFCwill become an important base for biodiversity monitoring and assessment, training and capacity building in the region for years to come,” he added.
“During these last 12 months we have had an increase in Malaysian students requesting to work or study at DGFC and this is something I hope will continue in the future. Sabah’s biodiversity is one of its greatest assets and we feel privileged to be involved in studying the dynamics of animal and plant populations in Kinabatangan,” Goossens said.
Meanwhile, Director of Sabah Wildlife Department Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said: “During the coming ten years, we expect to see the centre expand its research and maintain its teaching activities to the excellent current standard. It is our major goal to increase the management relevance of our research and to instigate a comprehensive education program for students and professionals from Malaysia and elsewhere in South-East Asia.”
“On top of these important activities, we hope the centre can play an increasing role in biodiversity assessment and monitoring at the Kinabatangan floodplain and help us manage the sanctuary. This important floodplain, now part of an internationally recognised RAMSARsite, deserves nothing less,” added Ambu.
Source : The New Sabah Times