|Danau Girang Field Centre|
KOTA KINABALU: The Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) recently received a RM1 million funding from Sime Darby Foundation for conservation and management of bantengs in Sabah.
The project will be in collaboration with several partners including the Forestry Department, Sabah Foundation and Cardiff University.
And so far the Foundation has committed close to RM80 million for its Big9 programme – which is to protect and conserve nine endangered animals, most of which are indigenous to Malaysia.
The animals are the sun bear, orangutan, Asian elephant, Sunda clouded leopard, hornbill, banteng, proboscis monkey, sumatran rhino and Malayan tiger.
The total commitment from the Foundation for its environment pillar is over RM111 million over many years. The project aims to increase the knowledge and awareness of this extremely endangered species of wild cattle in Sabah,” said wildlife director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu.
“It will be a three-year project during which we will try to locate the remaining populations of banteng across Sabah and assess their conservation status and longevity in their current locations,” said Dr Benoit Goossens, director of the Danau Girang Field Centre and leader of the project.
Dr Goossens said to achieve the objective, they would use the only record of banteng distribution available in an unpublished report entitled “A Faunal survey of Sabah” that was compiled by WWF in 1982.
The report included a distribution map of bantengs in Sabah and estimated population sizes.
“Recognition of remnant banteng populations is critical to identify the extent of the decline which has probably occurred over the past 30 years as a result of deforestation, land conversion and human population expansion.
“It is also crucial for identifying connectivity issues compromising the genetic integrity of the species,” Dr Goossens said, adding that camera trap grids would be set up in those areas to capture banteng photographs and estimate habitat occupancy.
And, he also said education and capacity building had always been a priority for the Sime Darby Foundation, and as such, the project would also include training of one Malaysian Master student and two local field research assistants.
“At the end of the project we will organise an international workshop on the conservation status of bantengs in Sabah to highlight the current status of the species, and discuss mitigation possibilities as well as to launch an action plan for bantengs in Sabah,” Dr Laurentius said.
Source: New Sabah Times