Author: Michael Ng, Senior Executive, SED
Malaysia is now experiencing more positive and encouraging developments in its wildlife conservation efforts. This is timely as there has been a spate of criticisms and outrage on the state of the country’s conservation efforts earlier, sparked by the death of a Malayan tiger in February this year.
Firstly, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia, has recently announced that it will provide RM700,000 (USD175,000) to support the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre that is located at Sandakan, Sabah. The centre is currently holding 38 rescued sun bears*, and was established in 2008 to create more education and awareness for the conservation and care of the Bornean sun bear. These are an endangered species found in Borneo, Sabah. The centre is now a popular eco-tourism spot and is accessible for public visits.
Earlier, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Malaysia announced that up to RM3-4 million (USD 0.75 -1 million) could be allocated to fund the construction of wildlife corridors at highways, especially at hotspot areas where there are records of wildlife crossings. It is hoped that these wildlife corridors would enable endangered animals such as the Malayan tigers and elephants to safely make their way across the highways, and prevent further road casualties such as the unfortunate incidence with a tiger in February.
The Malaysian palm oil industry is also involved in these conservation efforts. Yayasan Sime Darby, through its ‘Big 9 Programme’ funds conservation efforts for vulnerable or endangered species in Malaysia, including the sun bear, Malayan tiger, orangutan and pygmy elephant.
The Malaysian Palm Oil Council, through its Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF) enables the Sabah’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) to conduct wildlife rescue and translocation operations in order to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts in Sabah. Amongst the animals WRU has successfully translocate include sun bears, orangutans, pygmy elephants and even estuarine crocodiles. A short video of the WRU’s efforts can be viewed from this link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yipWf96YM7I .
MPOC is also commencing work with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) for better Malayan Tiger conservation efforts in the country. It has just funded medical aid for two Malayan tiger cataract operations from the National Wildlife Rescue Centre at Sungkai, Perak.
The Malaysian palm oil industry’s contributions here comes from a desire to achieve a fine balance between development and the environment, as well as to ensure that human-wildlife conflicts can be addressed in a positive manner. These initiatives also reaffirms MPOC’s belief that the Malaysian palm oil industry can co-exist with nature in a sustainable manner.
*The sun bear is the world’s smallest bear species.
Footnote: About MPOWCF
MPOWCF was launched in 2006 with an initial funding of Ringgit Malaysia (RM) 20 million of which RM10 million is a grant from the Malaysian government and the balance of RM10 million is provided by the palm oil industry. The Fund is administered by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), which has the overall responsibility to manage the various conservation projects funded through MPOWCF. Funds are provided for execution of projects and studies on wildlife, biodiversity and environmental conservation while factoring the overall impact of the palm oil industry on these parameters. The MPOWCF also accepts contributions from independent donors. For every ringgit contributed by an independent donor, MPOC will top it up with another ringgit, that is, on 1:1 basis.
- ‘Malayan tiger killed crossing East Coast Expressway’, 6 February 2016, the Star Malaysia, http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/02/06/malayan-tiger-killed-crossing-east-coast-expressway/
- ‘Sun bear centre receives Tourism Ministry aid’, 27 March 2016, the Star Malaysia, http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/03/27/sun-bear-centre-receives-tourism-ministry-aid/
- ‘Cadangan wujud laluan melintas dikaji’, 15 February 2016, Sinar Harian website, http://www.sinarharian.com.my/nasional/cadangan-wujud-laluan-haiwan-melintas-dikaji-1.485525
- ‘Laluan LPT2 akan ditambah baik dengan ciri mesra hidupan liar’, 31 March 2016, BERNAMA, http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v8/bm/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1230517
- Yayasan Sime Darby website, Big 9 Programme, http://www.yayasansimedarby.com/1304040511%C2%BBYSD%E2%80%99s_RM2@1_mil_support_for_Bornean_Sun_Bear_conservation.aspx
- Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre website, http://www.bsbcc.org.my/
- ‘Sabah Sets Up Wildlife Rescue Unit’, 24 May 2010, BERNAMA, http://archive.mpoc.org.my/Sabah_Sets_Up_Wildlife_Rescue_Unit.aspx