Volunteers from Japan are working on a project to improve habitat connectivity for the orangutans in Lower Kinabatangan.
The group from Asahiyama Zoo, Kyoto City Zoo and Fukuoka Zoo, with the support from KOPEL Bhd, a community-based tourism cooperative in Lower Kinabatangan, recently strung a rope bridge for the primates to cross over a section of the Sungei Pin, allowing them to move freely on either side of the river.
Nobuo Nakanishi, a director with BCT Japan who coordinated the work, said the project was part of a programme developed by the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) to assist the Sabah Wildlife Department to improve habitat connectivity for the orangutan in Lower Kinabatangan.
BCT’s Head of Conservation and Research, Raymond Alfred said that while the material used for the bridge may only last for several years, it at least provides immediate means for the orangutan population and other primates in this area to migrate into other isolated forest habitats.
Alfred also emphasised the need to re-establish a long term biodiversity corridor with the support from land developers such as oil palm plantations and timber companies.
Dr Laurentius Ambu, Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, highlighted the importance of retaining the existing riparian reserve along the Kinabatangan River, including areas such as Sungai Pin, as wildlife corridors.
These vital corridors will allow species such as elephants and orangutans access to food sources and establish crucial genetic links between populations, he said.
BCT is in the process of working closely with several major stakeholders to develop a follow-up action plan to re-establish a biodiversity corridor from Batu Puteh to Sg. Lokan Forest Reserve.