|Cat and Dog (example)|
KOTA KINABALU: For much of Sabah’s history, politics has taken centrestage at the expense of other important issues – animal welfare among them – which have been given scant attention.
Ask anyone about the welfare of animals, both wild and domestic in the state, and the majority would just shrug.
Bring up the subject of animal rights and the response would either be incredulity, puzzlement and cynicism and perhaps all three in equal measure.
Animal rights has been, for the best part of its existence, not adhered to nor practiced, with the exception of when it benefits certain quarters, say animal welfare advocates in the state and they want this mindset to change.
Organisers of the animal rights thrust in the state, Melissa Angus and Rasmis Rashid of Valiant Events and Entertainment and Raymond Alfred, the head of Conservation and Research, Borneo Conservation Trust are under no illusion about their endeavour.
“Like with most things, perseverance is the key to creating more awareness and having more consideration that animals have rights too,” they said in a statement announcing a one-day non-profit event on Oct 5, 2012 at the KDCA Hall in Penampang.
Valiant and BCT have organised the event “as part of our community responsibility in striving to make a difference” .
“The aim is to highlight the need to nurture and protect Sabah’s unique species,” said the statement.
The programme will start with an exhibition at 2.30pm while the official launching of the programme will start at 3pm. Admission is free.
“In the evening at 7pm, there will be ticketed musical concert with performances by school students, local and national artist hosted by radio deejays of Hitz FM the Morning Crew- JJ and Ean,” said Alfred.
Alfred emphasized that there is a need to organize a consistent awareness outreach programme such as the one on Oct 5, 2012 in order to ensure that our people and communities can understand the important of respecting animal welfare, including what type of wildlife species that cannot be kept as a pet by them.
“We have found (the) Malayan Sun Bear, Leopard Cat, Tarsier and Long-tailed Macaque in and around (local) settlements and creating awareness among the communities will be the best way to avoid these species from being kept illegally by them,” he said
The programme organisers also hoped to highlight the need to curb littering as the massive disposal of plastic bags and waste into rivers that empty into the sea was having a disastrous affect on the marine environment especially turtles.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has estimated that each year around 500 dogs and 5,000 cats are left to roam around the city and its vicinity.
The key objective of the programme is to enhance awareness of the need for animal welfare including wildlife conservation in Sabah.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr. Laurentius Ambu said the effort was commendable as it would ultimately cultivate a culture of respecting animals and wildlife in Sabah by ensuring their living conditions and habitats were well managed.
He said the first stage of the effort to encourage children to respect wildlife is to educate them that animals also have needs which should be respected.
The event is a collaborative affair bringing together the Sabah Wildlife Department, Environmental Action Centre, Borneo Conservation Trust, Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) KK and The Green Connection and is supported by the State’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Environment.
The organisers called on the public to give their full support to the awareness programme which hopes to promote a guideline on animal welfare.
The guideline includes:
- Freedom from thirst and hunger – by ready access to fresh water sources and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
- Freedom from discomfort – by providing an appropriate habitat environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
- Freedom from pain, injury, and disease – by providing rapid diagnosis and treatment.
- Freedom to express normal behavior – by providing sufficient ranging habitat / living environment.
- Freedom from fear and distress – by ensuring low disturbance of their habitat and provide any necessary treatment to avoid further mental suffering.