Friday, March 29, 2013

RM2.1mil support for Bornean Sun Bear conservation

BSBCC’s youngest resc ued sun bear: Damai, a seven-month-old cub, is seen chewing off decayed wood to look for termites to eat. She was found in a residential area in Damai in November 2012 by a businessman who found her wandering on his porch. Damai was then sent to the Lok Kawi Zoo before being sent to BSBCC.
BSBCC’s youngest resc ued sun bear: Damai, a seven-month-old cub, is seen chewing off decayed wood to look for termites to eat. She was found in a residential area in Damai in November 2012 by a businessman who found her wandering on his porch. Damai was then sent to the Lok Kawi Zoo before being sent to BSBCC.

WITH a distinctive pale horseshoe-shaped imprint on their chests coupled with their cute and cuddly disposition, it is easy to understand why anyone would fall in love with the Malayan sun bears.

Despite the fact that sun bears are a protected species, some unscrupulous people hunt them down for their body parts which are consumed for medicinal purposes while the cubs end up as pets. Over the years, this practice has tragically depleted the sun bear population.

Sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) are the smallest and least known members of the bear family and their population is rapidly diminishing in South-East Asia.

With the support of Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD), the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sepilok, Sabah, has been working hard to right the wrongdoings of mankind. BSBCC has been rescuing sun bears which have been kept as pets and caring for them with the hope of releasing them back into the wild in the future.

BSBCC is a non-profit organisation initiated by the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and a non-government organisation, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), in 2008 to look after the plight of captive and orphaned sun bears in Sabah and to promote conservation efforts.

In 2012, YSD allocated funding of RM2.1 million for the BSBCC. A major chunk of the funding is being used to renovate an existing bear house and to construct a second bear house where the rescued sun bears will be relocated.

YSD’s sponsorship also includes the construction of a visitor information centre and opening the BSBCC to the public, which would provide financial sustenance to the BSBCC.

YSD governing council member Caroline Christine Russell said the foundation’s sponsorship would help rescued sun bears to recuperate and be rehabilitated in a safe and protected environment.

“When sun bears are kept and treated as pets, they grow into adulthood without learning the necessary skills to survive in the wild. YSD is highly supportive of BSBCC’s mission to rescue captured sun bears and promote sun bear conservation in Borneo. This will halt cruelty to these animals including the killing of sun bears for their supposed medicinal value and keeping their offspring as pets,” she said.

BSBCC chief executive officer Wong Siew Te said the process of catching a sun bear cub involved killing its mother.

“If the law allows sun bears to be kept as pets, it will only fuel demand which would lead to more poaching of sun bears,” he said.

There have also been instances where poachers left cubs to die, after killing their mothers for body parts. The demand for the sun bear’s bile and other parts especially for traditional medicine and even for delicacies is said to be among the reasons for the poaching and illegal trade of the species.

The Malayan sun bear has been classified as “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Book Listing of Endangered Species since 2007 due to its dwindling population over the past 30 years.

Sun bears do not breed well in captivity and due to their naturally slow reproductive rate, a female sun bear may only have up to three to four cubs in her lifetime. Thus, excessive hunting or capturing of cubs can easily wipe out the local population.

It is illegal to kill or hunt these bears under the 1997 Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment and those found guilty of rearing or possessing protected species such as the Malayan sun bear could face a mandatory jail term between one month and a year.

The BSBCC is currently home to 28 rescued sun bears.

The latest addition is a four-month old female cub that was found in a housing area in Kota Kinabalu in early November last year.

For more information on what BSBCC does and how the public can help with the sun bear’s conservation efforts, please visit

Source: The Star

Mataking Reef Day 2013

Date : 01 June 2013
The Reef Dive Resort of Mataking Island will once again unite with schools, community leaders, local NGOs and local authorities to make the Sabah east coast's aquatic world a better place.

Fun and educational programs await, such as underwater clean-up, beach cleanup, team building challenges and awareness workshops. 

For further information:

Organiser : The Reef Dive Resort, Mataking Island
Venue : Semporna, Sabah
Telephone : 6089-770 022
Fax : 6089-770 023
Email Contact :

Michelle Yeoh urges people to protect the environment and preserve nature


Malaysian international actress, Datuk Seri Michelle Yeoh is urging people to play their part in protecting and preserving the nature.

Yeoh who is supporting the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) during her inaugural visit to the Talang Talang Island, said it is important to stress conservation awareness through education.She praised the SFC efforts in protecting the turtles from extinction by pressing for minimal tourism activities on the protected island. She emphasized that conservation and protection should be part of our lifestyle since it is a shared responsibility of global citizens. She also added that she is willing to be the spokesperson for the turtle conservation and research project run by SFC at the Talang Talang Island.

Earlier, she joined the Turtle Adoption Programme and adopted thirteen hatcheries, of which part of them was on behalf of her family members. They were named  Love, Prosperity, Longevity, and Peace. Yeoh and entourage also have released 17 baby green turtles into the sea.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'Baby Joe' is doing fine at wildlife park

Photo: Andrew Chant

KOTA KINABALU: JOE, the elephant calf, which captured the hearts of all when a photograph of it trying to wake its dead mother was published, is doing fine.

Two months down the line, the four-month-old calf has gained weight and is also more sociable with other elephants at the Lok Kawi Sabah Wildlife Park, near here.

Sabah Wildlife veterinarian Dr Roza Sipagkui said seeing other elephants could psychologically motivate baby Joe to move on with its life despite its loss.

"During the first day, it was brought here, it looked traumatised so knowing that there would be other animals here can help it to familiarise itself," she added.

However, the calf is still being monitored as they could not be sure whether the "poison" is completely removed from its internal system.

"Baby Joe drank its mother's milk. It could possibly be also be poisoned," she said.

The calf has gained weight after being fed baby formula by hand. It has also began taking in solids in the form of grass and soft parts of banana tree trunk.

Roza said that baby Joe would continue to stay at the park until they were sure that it was capable of taking care of itself in the wild.

Baby Joe hit the headlines when it was pictured nuzzling its lifeless mother in a desperate attempt to revive her.

Baby Joe's mother was among 14 pygmy elephants found dead at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Tawau.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the outcome of the second test result would be revealed next week.

"We will wait for the test report and further action will be taken based on the facts," he added.

The result of the first test on the elephants' deaths proved to be inconclusive. A sample was sent to forensic testing facilities in Australia and Thailand in an effort to find any chemical compounds that may have caused the deaths of the pachyderms.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

EARTH HOUR: Cycling to spread the good message

Photo: Insight Sabah
In conjuction with the Earth Hour event,  Hyatt Regency Kinabalu and the Kota Kinabalu Cycling Association have organised a commemorative ride with the aim of raising awareness about energy conservation and lowering of carbon emissions. Some 180 cyclists from all over Sabah showed their support by taking to the roads of the city in an hour-long bike ride to spread the message.

Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Resource Development and Information Technology, Datuk Seri Dr Yee Moh Chai has attended the event and said such ride not only contributes to healthy lifestyle, but at the same time would help spread the message of energy saving and reducing carbon footprints.

Monday, March 25, 2013

EARTH HOUR: Coral planting at Earth Hour event

Photo: Insight Sabah
Sutera Harbour Resort has added a conservation activity in the form of coral planting during its Earth Hour event here, last Saturday.

The resort started celebrating Earth Hour in 2007, grew bigger and by 2011 it also involved the Sabah Environment Action Centre (EAC) and the Kota Kinabalu City Hall in 2012. For this 2013 Earth Hour, the resort started on a coral planting project with the Borneo Marine Research Institute of Universiti Malaysia Sabah which providing the expertise.

The event was launched by Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Masidi Manjun at 8.30 pm sharp. Masidi said the event was not only about switching off the light for an hour but to create awareness among the people on the importance of energy conservation in the long run. He advised to everybody to be wise in electricity consumption at home or the office by switching on lights and air conditioners only when needed. He suggested that everyone can start conserving electricity at home or the office by switching on lights and air conditioners only when needed. The minister also recommended that building architects and designers should use air conditioning systems that can be adjusted especially those with centralised systems.

BEST Society to conserve coastal fisheries in Kudat

BEST Society which is the non-profit foundation of Borneo Eco Tours and Sukau Rainforest Lodge will be working towards the conservation of coastal fishing ground around Kampung Terongkongan in Kudat.

This initiative will include educating the local residents there on the far-reaching impact of fish bombing, and to help restore marine life to allow it to recover from fishing bombing activities in the past. Besides that, they are also aiming to reduce the rate of poverty among the local folk there. BEST Society has offered to commit RM100,000 over the next ten years to work on conservation of the coastal reef fishing ground.

Director-cum-founder of BEST Society and also the managing director/chairman of Borneo Eco Tours Malaysia, Albert Teo said they had decided to undertake the project following a recent visit there, where he learnt about the depressing tale of rampant fish bombing in the area, from a local Rungus couple, Somuil and Norzailly who are operating their homestay outfit there.

“This method of fishing not only kills a large number of fish and other marine organisms in the vicinity but also destroys the physical structure of coral reefs. On average, a one kilogram (35 ounce) beer-bottle bomb can leave a rubble crater of approximately one to two meters in diameter, destroying 50 to 80 per cent of the corals in that area." - Albert Teo

Therefore, BEST Society is welcoming the public, other NGOs and relevant government departments to join in this effort to conserve coastal fisheries and eradicate poverty.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Do your bit for Earth Hour

TNB workers dropping in their forms, pledging to save energy, during the campaign launch at Wisma TNB in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur.
TNB workers dropping in their forms, pledging to save energy, during the campaign launch at Wisma TNB in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Earth Hour starts at 8.30pm today and Tenaga Nasional Bhd hopes Malaysians will put into action what they have learned about energy-saving.

This is because despite the large number of awareness campaigns about saving electricity, fewer people are putting it into practice each year.

TNB corporate affairs and communications vice-president Adelina Iskandar hopes the trend will be reversed this year and a bigger dip in electricity demand be recorded tonight.

Earth Hour is an annual worldwide event organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), encouraging households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for an hour to raise awareness about the need to act on climate change.

The event, started in 2007, is observed in 152 countries.

Adelina said that during the Earth Hour in 2009, there was a 6% (306MW) drop in electricity usage.

Last year, however, the drop was less than 1%, which is a mere 105MW.

Addelina added that the electricity saved had gradually decreased since 2009, with TNB recording 2% (203MW) that year, and 1% (113MW) in each subsequent year.

“Malaysians cannot just make pledges to conserve energy during Earth Hour.

“Your pledges must be executed because it is only then that awareness is translated into action,” she said after launching the TNB-WWF Malaysia Earth Hour 2013 awareness campaign here yesterday.

She said Malaysians could easily decrease their electricity use by adopting long-term greener habits.

These, she said, included buying five-star rated energy saving appliances, switching off unnecessary lighting and appliances as well as minimising water usage.

She urged people to try to live without creature comforts unnecessary in Malaysia's tropical climate.

“Many of our habits have been formed from watching commercials.

“We feel as though we need a comforter to sleep at night. Then when we feel hot, we turn the air-conditioner on at 16°C.

“In the morning we need hot water to shower because we feel cold,” she said, stressing that reducing energy and water consumption would have a positive effect on demand management.
WWF-Malaysia conservation director Dr Sundari Ramakrishnan was glad TNB was collaborating with the organisation to drive the Earth Hour momentum for the second year running.

Source: The Star

ESSCOM to protect marine park from fish bombers


KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government decision to establish the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) covering a coastline of some 1,400 kilometers from Kudat to Tawau could also benefit the yet-to-be-gazetted Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) located on the northern part of Sabah.

WWF-Sulu Sulawesi Marine Ecoregion-Malaysia manager Rebecca Jumin said she was elated when news of the implementation came out, as among the problems faced in efforts to conserve corals and fish at TMP were the high incidence of fish bombing.

“It is very difficult to regulate fish bombing activities because they (the fish bombers) come in kumpits (small Filipino boats) and can easily escape,” she explained. Fish bombing activities has been linked to reduced fish stocks in places within the TMP region.

She said the setting up of ESSCOM would boost environmental conservation efforts that are being carried out at TMP and thus put a stop to the high incidence of fish bombing within the region.

“I can see the benefit, especially in terms of stopping incidence of fish bombing. I hope it will really address the issue,” she said.

She also urged the ESSCOM to not concentrate only on issues related to protecting the sovereignty of the country, but also to look after the environment and more particularly, on fisheries food supplies.

“I would say having food security is as important as looking after the security of the people,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) school of business and economics lecturer, James Alin, said that the establishment of the ESSCOM would help in the maintenance and support of the TMP.

“Without the ESSCOM, it would be a bit difficult to look after TMP because the area concerned is very large. There is no use for us to have a park when there are no enforcement to look after the area,” he said.

TMP covers an area of 1.02 million hectares, consisting of more than 50 islands and islets and park supports 80,000 coastal inhabitants threatened by overfishing and destructive fishing practices.

James said, to make the TMP effective, there was a need to forge collaboration with Palawan (Philippines) so that the area could be managed together.

“We have already collaborated with them in the management of the Turtle Island. The joint collaboration has benefited both, although not many people know about it,” he said.
Source: Borneo Post

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Seven UMS lecturers to join five-year study on monkey bar


Kota Kinabalu: Seven senior lecturers from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) have been appointed as research collaborators for a five-year project which will focus on research sites in Sabah and Palawan Island, the Philippines to determine the risk factors for the spread of Plasmodium knowlesi malaria in humans. 

The research project will comprise two phases that will cover clinical monitoring of the number of cases of P. knowlesi together with a case control study in Sabah and large scale epidemiological survey, mathematical model development and analysis. 

The research consortium grant for this project has been awarded under the call "Environmental and Social Ecology of Human Infectious Diseases (ESEI)." 

ESEI is a joint initiative between the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBRSRC) as part of the Living with Environmental Change programme. 

A UMS statement said Sabah has the highest number of cases of Plasmodium knowlesi malaria, also known as monkey bar, in South East Asia, as evidenced by the recent description of a significant cluster of human P. knowlesi in the Kudat district. 

According to Dr B Singh from Malaria Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, the natural host for P. knowlesi in Malaysia are long-tailed macaques, pig-tailed macaques and banded leaf monkeys. 

These two species of macaques are the most common non-human primate species found in Malaysia and have been noted to harbour five species of plasmodium. 

In his article 'Plasmodium knowlesi in Malaysia, Dr Singh said human can acquire knowlesi malaria when they visit the forest habitat of macaques and the mosquito vectors, while the vast majority of knowlesi malaria cases occur in adults. 

The report said, plasmodium knowlesi, a simian malaria parasite, is now recognised as the fifth cause of human malaria and can lead to fatal infections in human. 

P. knowlesi was first isolated in 1931 from a long-tailed macaque imported to India from Singapore, while the early experiments were mainly conducted by Knowles and Das Gupta. 

The two observed that P. knowlesi causes symptomatic and low level parasitaemia in its natural host, the long-tailed macaque, but is lethal for Indian rhesus macaques, the report said. 

Meanwhile, a two-day international malaria symposium will be held in Kota Kinabalu on April 16 and 17, featuring internationally renowned prominent malaria scientists. 

According to UMS, the symposium was to provide a forum for discussion about the latest findings on malaria research as well as to foster co-operation among malariologists and hopefully lead to future collaborative research. 

DIY TetraBox Lamp

Designer Ed Chew shared a really cool idea how to turn discarded drink packets into a beautiful overhead lamp that casts an impressive web of shadows and shapes on the surrounding space. He starts by unfolding the packets and refolding them into hexagonal and pentagonal sections, then pieces them together forming a geodesic sphere or any other desired shape. The best part is that you can make such lamp at home!

In his own words:
“Packet drinks are one of the most favored soft drinks among Malaysians. We just love sipping packet drinks wherever we go and never actually bother about the thousands of boxes we discarded off after each quench, despite knowing the fact that landfills across our country are bursting at the seams.Perhaps, it’s about time we adopt a paradigm shift in our attitudes towards making this world a better place. As for me, here’s a little GREEN step I am taking to help reducing the amount of waste going to landfills.Introducing TetraBox Lamp. You will never look at empty packet drinks the same way again!”



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Profiling of Tun Mustapha Park – Habitat and community

Since 2006, the initiatives have collaborated with the communities of TMP to map important habitats, ecosystems, and areas for livelihood generation. Working with coastal communities and fishermen, community mapping was conducted to document important traditional fishing area, sea turtle nesting beaches, distribution of biodiversity such as sea turtles and dugongs based on observations, and common environmental issues in the area.

Commercial fishers have identified important commercial fishing ground such as demersal, purse seine and crab fishing ground. These local knowledge were gathered through a community survey conducted in 2006-2007 by Sabah Parks and WWF-Malaysia.

Community profile of TMP was also developed from the same community. The survey found that the coastal communities within TMP are mainly primary resource users with low income and limited formal education with aspirations for alternative livelihood to alleviate their socio-economic condition. This means their activities directly affect the biodiversity and marine ecosystems around them, and have primary interest in the management of their resources.

At the same time, continuous scientific researchers are also delivered. This include a scientific expedition that was conducted in 2012. The expedition was jointly organised by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Sabah Parks and WWF-Malaysia with collaboration from Universiti Malaya and the University of Queensland, and was financially supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) as part of their Coral Triangle Initiative Programme, and the Coral Triangle Support Partnership (USAID CTSP).

After 19 days of observations, the status of many reefs has been explored and they are showing apparent signs of stress from overfishing and destructive fishing methods used around the proposed park.

Focused interviews and field surveys in the proposed TMP have provided a better understanding of species which occur regularly and appear to depend on resources within the area for survival.

Source: Borneo Post

Collaborative effort needed to address problems of marine ecosystem sustainability – Yahya

Yahya getting ready to beat a gong as a symbolic launch of the seminar.
Yahya getting ready to beat a gong as a symbolic launch of the seminar.

KOTA KINABALU: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin has called for a collaborative effort to address the problems of the marine ecosystem sustainability.

Yahya pointed out that marine and coastal resources industries in the world are reported to represent more than five percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) and oceans also provide the so-called ‘non-market’ benefits such as climate regulation, carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation.

All these services will be downgraded or lost if oceans are not in a good state of health, so how can we afford to ignore the oceans? he questioned.

Speaking at the launching of the ‘Annual International Seminar on Marine Science & Aquaculture: Ocean Health & Our Future’ yesterday, Yahya pointed out that since fish landings from the captured fisheries are not increasing to match demand, aquaculture has to develop to supplement fish supply.

“The current level of production which is reported to be more than 63 million tons is not enough to meet human requirements. I know there are challenges in its developments but they have to be addressed.

“If as a result of exchange of experience and knowledge among the delegates, suitable strategies which are also relevant locally happen to emerge, kindly let us know. We would like to take up the matter for follow-up action,” he said in his speech at the seminar organised by the Borneo Marine Research Institute of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

“We are open to ideas and willing to act on scientific evidences presented to us in a way that policies could be evolved based on sound decisions,” the Agriculture and Food Industry Minister added.

According to Yahya, Malaysia, and Sabah especially, prides itself on having a rich culture where the marine heritage has played a very important role in peoples’ lifestyles and the government will spare no efforts to protect those cultural and traditional interests of its ocean citizens.

“These very resources are facing the threat to their sustainability. I believe if scientists, social scientists, policy makers and other stakeholders come together to address the problems of the marine ecosystem, we can collectively make a difference for the benefit of current and future generations,” he said.

Yahya pointed out that with oceans covering more than 70 per cent of the earth surface and their health linked so closely to human welfare, the ever increasing importance of this vast body of water is understandable.

“As our knowledge of the oceans increased over recent decades, our perceptions have also changed, making us think rationally about limits of acceptable change in the marine ecosystem,” he said, adding that the vastness of oceans and their enormous capacity to absorb impacts does not make them immune to human actions.

This, he said, is evident from the changes in ocean chemistry, most prominently acidification, and decline in biodiversity and fisheries resources.

The ecosystem degradation, Yahya stressed, is not confined to the coastal belt but spreads to remote areas due to water movement and pollutants introduced locally become a global problem in the course of time.

Their biomagnification in marine organisms consumed by humans creates health hazards, he said and added that oceans are a common necessity that needs to be protected by all and for all.

This, opined Yahya, calls for worldwide efforts and despite advancement in fishing technology, the captured fisheries production has not improved beyond the 90 million tons worldwide and many of the commercially important fish stocks have lost sustainability.

Globally, fish have been harvested at a rate far beyond their reproductive capacity of replenishment and this is the most serious challenge to sustainable management of commercial fisheries, he said.

“In addition to direct pressure on seafood resources, habitat degradation, biodiversity loss and effects of climate change are acting simultaneously to threaten sustainability. Besides seafood, the oceans also support the economic sectors such as tourism, shipping and energy.

“They offer opportunities for sourcing pharmaceuticals to treat human diseases and cosmetic products. In fact, the marine bio prospecting is an increasingly important topic for the pharmaceutical industry,” Yahya said.

Source: Borneo Post

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rooftop solar PV launched at SM St. Michael, Sabah

Greenery welcomes you as you approach St. Michael secondary school.

While 10 schools in Sabah celebrate their achievement of 100% passes in the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) this year, SM St Michael has a bonus reason to celebrate.

The school became the first in Sabah to have the solar photovoltaic (PV) system installed on its roof to reduce the school's electricity consumption. More importantly, this will pave the way for Malaysians to learn and appreciate the technology at early stage.

The installation of the 5.4kWp rooftop solar here was completed in January 2013, thanks to a worldwide project named dena Solar Roofs Programme, coordinated by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur GmbH, and co-financed by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

Brief information of the rooftop installation:

Installed capacity       : 5.4 kWp
Solar module              : 24 panels
Area of roof covered  : 41m2
Panel rating                : 225W
Inverter                       : 2 nos (to convert DC to AC supply)
Energy production     : 6,800 kWh annually. Approximately 567 kWh per month
Cost                             : €2,000 to €2,500 per kWp without battery (RM8,000 - RM10,000)

For educational purposes:
A display panel has been installed in the centre of the school to display the actual power in kW and the accumulated generated energy (in kWh) and CO2 savings over the entire period.

"The main goal is to support the cooperation between German and Malaysian experts in the field of photovoltaic and also sharing of knowledge about the systems under the specific conditions in Malaysia." 

           - Gabriele Eichner of the German Energy Agency.

The school became the programme's first recipient in Malaysia

Another school with solar PV installation is SK Pulau Sepanggar, located half an hour boat-ride from Kota Kinabalu. This is a full capacity installation which means the school gets all its power requirement from this installation alone. The school is not connected to the power grid due to its location.

It is a self initiative by the government to improve the quality of life of the local community as well as to provide a better learning environment for the school children.

SK Pulau Sepanggar hybrid system: The 25kWp solar PV is coupled with diesel generator set

TheGreenMechanics' two cents:

While fully agreeing to the school selection, I am hoping that the "dena Solar Roofs Programme" will also look into the many underprivileged rural schools in the interior. They acknowledged that the programme is most suited for places such as those in the remote areas in East Malaysia. 

Source: The Green Mechanics

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tracking wild elephants to identify conservation areas and corridors
Dr Diana Ramirez and Marvin George from Widlife Rescue Unit collecting blood from Dara’s ear.

KOTA KINABALU: The Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) from Sabah Wildlife Department darted two female elephants, one adult and one juvenile in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve.

The two females were part of the herd from which 14 individuals died from unknown cause.

Dr Diana Ramirez, wildlife veterinarian for WRU, said the adult female, named Dara by WRU rangers, was set up with a satellite collar provided by Danau Girang Field Centre.

“We also collected blood from Dara and a juvenile female from the same herd, following a request by the State Wildlife Enforcement Task Force. One of the causes of death of the 14 elephants could be an emerging or unknown disease. By analysing the blood of the living elephants from the same herd, it could help identifying the disease, if any,” explained Ramirez.

Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) director Dr Benoit Goossens said by collaring an adult female from the herd, they hope to identify the movements of the herd within the changing landscape in Gunung Rara/Kalabakan region, and try to understand what could have happened to the 14 elephants that died last January.

“Moreover, in collaboration with WWF-Malaysia, we plan to fit satellite collars on 20 to 30 elephants from several herds in central Sabah. We will then monitor their movements and ranging patterns in order to identify the best areas for conservation and propose the establishment of elephant corridors,” added Goossens.

“So far, from February 25 to March 15, Dara has been traveling within Gunung Rara Forest Reserve. Blood samples were sent to Thailand and Australia for analysis,” concluded Goossens.

Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, director of Sabah Wildlife Department, said the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment and the Sabah Wildlife Department would not give up in its quest of identifying the cause of death of the 14 elephants that were found in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve.

Dara’s collaring was funded by grants from The Asian Elephant Foundation and Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and US Fish and Wildlife Service to DGFC.

Danau Girang Field Centre ¨C a field study centre located within the Kinabatangan – is a collaborative project between the Sabah Wildlife Department and Cardiff University.

The Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit was established by SWD with funds from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort.

Source: Borneo Post

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Moyog Community River Restoration is on Track

Moyog River restoration is part of efforts to keep communities who live nearby its banks motivated in making a difference. This movement which has been started a year ago is on its right momentum with the third activity planned was carried out on Saturday.

The programme was conducted by Community-Led Environmental Awareness for Our River, or CLEAR with the assistance of the Sabah Environmental Action Centre (EAC). A talk on waste management for the Kampung Terawi community and a gotong royong by communities was held during the programme. CLEAR chairperson, Winnie Jimis said they are intend to continue with what they have started since they have received positive reponse from the villagers. She also added a new area under the Divato Village Security and Development Committee upstream of Kampung Tagad will take part in the effort by launching a campaign on river cleanliness next month.

Moyog River is listed as polluted due to indiscriminate dumping of household waste, and can no longer be used as a source for drinking water the way it was in the past. It is also the end point for large drains that flow from shops and housing estates. However, Winnie believed the Moyog River can be restored if they keep running the restoration programmes. Meanwhile, a jetty at Kampung Kuai will be opened to the public for bamboo raft cruising at RM3 per person and another jetty is under construction at Kampung Kodundungan with funding from Penampang Member of Parliament Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Taking the ultimate step to conserve our natural treasures for posterity

The Borneo Pygmy Elephants are one of the many wildlife in Sabah in danger of extinction

The tropical rainforests of Borneo are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth with at least 15,000 species of plants that have been identified. Of that number, approximately 6,000 species are unique to the land.

Unfortunately, it is only in recent times that this treasure trough of biodiversity has caught the attention of scientists and environmentalists, and then governments. There are now frantic efforts to save these treasures from decades of mindless destruction and exploitation. Over the years, our forests and wildlife habitats have come under relentless onslaught to the point that some plants and animals faced extinction.

To counter this, the State Government has made a resolute stand and taken strong measures to protect Sabah's natural environment. Currently, plans are afoot to turn  Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyons (DAMAI), which together span over 133,000 hectares with over 1,800 species of flora and 800 species of fauna, into a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“We have a chance to safeguard forever these treasures in Sabah. We should take the chance now instead of leaving it to the people who come after us to safeguard them,” Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi Manjun reminded Sabahans at the Nomination of DAMAI as a World Heritage Site Workshop last year. 

More and more parties are following in the government’s foot steps to protect the environment. This includes the state-mandated non-governmental organization (NGO) Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT). BCT announced yesterday that it has embarked on a ten-year programme with Myne Resort to prove that people are more likely to benefit from a natural forest teeming with wildlife than one that is depleted of living creatures. In a press statement, BCT Conservation and Research Head Raymond Alfred explained that the programme is currently carried out on the 100 acres of forestland belonging to Myne Resort.

BCT will carry out three core activities focused on conservation and management of the land. These activities include the establishment of a wild orangutan lookout site and Bornean pygmy elephants’ observation platform.

“We believe that this move will encourage more people to come and visit the Lower Kinabatangan Mega Biodiversity Corridor, which is within the Myne’s Forest corridor. Additionally, they can also learn what they can do to support conservation efforts in the area,” he said.

BCT will also carry out a unique wildlife observation programme with young people in mind. This involves developing a long-term volunteer programme that encourages youth participation.

The programme was just launched in January this year and is being fine-tuned for routine operation.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Malaysia to support Earth Hour campaign again!


World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said Malaysia will be joining the Earth Hour campaign on March 23, 2013. This is the third time for Malaysia to join this campaign and the switching off of non-essential lights will begin at 8.30pm.

Sharma said  WWF-Malaysia, with cooperation from Universal Music Malaysia, Sunway Pyramid and DiGi Telecommunication Sdn Bhd, will organise an Earth Hour 2013 Band Contest to get more of the younger generation participation. This is an effort to bring environmental awareness through music and the five finalist bands that have the most public votes in the contest will have the opportunity to perform on the March 23 Earth Hour programme at Sunway Pyramid. He hoped this year would see an increase in participation, especially among business communities and the younger generation.

Earth Hour, a global environmental initiative which kicked off in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, is reported to be "the world's largest campaign for the planet", with more than 7,000 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories participating in the annual programme.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Malaysian Actress tours Imbak Canyon Conservation Area


IMBAK (Sandakan): Malaysian actress Maya Karin toured the Imbak Canyon Conservation Area (ICCA) in the heart of Sabah recently, trekking deep into the rainforest, and came out impressed by the experience.

“It is simply a treasure of Malaysia,” she said of the ICCA, a 30,000-hectare area of virgin dipterocarp forest that houses the iconic Imbak Waterfall.

“It’s a beautiful forest, a beautiful part of the world,” she said.

Maya arrived at the Tampoi Research Station, the focal point for exploring the ICCA, on Feb. 21 after more than seven hours’ drive from Kota Kinabalu.

She trekked to the Imbak Waterfall the next day, traversing through the pristine rainforest, accompanied by ICCA rangers as well as Yayasan Sabah Group officials.

Maya, who was there at the invitation of the Yayasan Sabah-Petronas Imbak Canyon Conservation Collaboration, later hiked to Kuli Waterfalls where she explored the surrounding forest before making her way out on Feb 25.

She also spoke of her experience with nature which involved among others, trekking in Peru and Nepal, and vowed to help create awareness on the importance of safeguarding the environment.

“I’m fascinated by nature. I love nature whether they are forests or beaches or mountains or animals; I love the whole range of things,” the actress, television host and singer said.

“As much as I can, since I am a person who now has a voice, I try and do what I can to highlight and create awareness that Malaysia is so very blessed with.

“I would not want to be in a situation, say, in 30 years from now where I would say ‘We used to have great things 20, 30 years ago when I was young. Sorry kids, we have nothing left for you.’ I would not want that to happen,” said Maya.

The ICCA is located within the Yayasan Sabah Group’s conservation areas.

Petronas is Yayasan Sabah Group’s partner for the Imbak Canyon Conservation Collaboration – a joint effort to conserve, promote and manage the ICCA as a protected area, train the local community in biodiversity conservation as well as provide relevant facilities for the community.

On the collaboration to conserve the ICCA, Maya said: “It’s great. I applaud everybody who is involved … all parties, private and government agencies, individuals, volunteers, rangers. God bless all of them for the effort.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

DIY Project: How to Save Water in Gardens and Small-holdings

DIY Project:  How to Save Water in Gardens and Small-holdings

The world is warming. Resources are dwindling. Clean water is in short supply. Recycling is ever more important.
Inspired by a trip to the Eden Project in Cornwall, this is a neat trick to save water in your vegetable garden, especially plants growing in pots and troughs, which dry out more quickly. You can get specially-made ceramic widgets, but this is my version made from recycled materials.
I call it the Scrooge Bottle.
Step 1: Materials and Tools

DIY Project:  How to Save Water in Gardens and Small-holdings

For each plant or pot you want to water, you need a bottle, and something absorbent to fill it with, such as cotton wool, old socks or the off-cuts from your jeans. 
No matter how many plants you want to water, you need a knife, a pin and a pair of pliers. 
Step 2: Perforation

DIY Project:  How to Save Water in Gardens and Small-holdings

DIY Project:  How to Save Water in Gardens and Small-holdings

The water needs to get out of the sides your bottle, but the bottle isn't porous. Hold the pin firmly in the pliers, and have at the bottle. Please, try not to perforate your hand.
Step 3: Absorption

DIY Project:  How to Save Water in Gardens and Small-holdings

DIY Project:  How to Save Water in Gardens and Small-holdings

Now the bottle is riddled with holes, the water could pour out instead of just oozing slowly. The bottle needs something to slow down the water's exit. That's what the absorbent stuff is for. 
You could use the knife to shred the fabric so that you can get it through the neck of the bottle, or you could cut the bottle in half and stuff the fabric in easily. When the bottle is stuffed, wedge it back together. You may find it easier to wedge the halves back together if you put a small cut in each half of the bottle so that you can scrunch them up slightly to fit together. 
Step 4: Using the bottle

DIY Project:  How to Save Water in Gardens and Small-holdings

The bottle's function is to get the water close to the roots of the plant and not waste it in the rest of the soil or to the atmosphere. The best way to do this is to plant the bottle close to the young plant, such as when you plant your seedlings out, with just the top of the bottle sticking out of the ground. 
You water the plant by pouring water into the bottle. You can use a funnel or a watering can with a narrow spout. If you live somewhere particularly dry or hot, you can save the lid and replace it between watering to stop evaporation.
As the plant grows, its root system will grow around the bottle, all the better to absorb the water, plus any nutrients you add. This may reduce the roots' ability to support the plant (because they're all bunched up around the bottle instead of spread out to catch "wild" water), so taller plants may need supporting somehow, possibly with canes or netting.
If your plant has a limited lifespan, the bottle can be dug up and used again, but you may want to wash or replace the fabric inside the bottle to prevent passing any infection from old to new plantings.