Sabah to have protected wildlife reserve

Sabah is intent on preserving its wildlife, with efforts being pursued with Indonesia to impregnate Iman, the only surviving female rhino.

SEMPORNA: The Sabah government will identify an area suitable for a wildlife habitat and breeding, especially for endangered animals.

Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal said this move was in line with the government’s intention to protect and ensure the survival of wildlife, which he said are “treasures” of the state.

He added that Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew, who is also the state tourism, culture and environment minister, had been tasked with identifying this area.

“It will be something like the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, Africa, where thousands of hectares of land have been reserved for wildlife,” he said when met by reporters after Aidiladha prayers here today.

Shafie said this area would not only house wildlife and endangered animals but would be a tourist attraction.

Visitors could then see the efforts taken by the state to preserve and protect wildlife in Sabah.

Shafie said Liew had gone to Jakarta to discuss the Sumatran rhino conservation programme with Indonesia’s Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation director-general Wiratno.

Shafie added that the move was in line with the state’s objective to protect its wildlife and endangered species.

“The only rhinoceros in Malaysia will not be able to breed and have offspring if it has no mates.

“That’s why I have asked Datuk Christina (Liew) to look into the possibility of a collaboration on the (conservation of the Sumatran rhinoceros and proposed breeding programme) matter.”

Malaysia is now left with one female Sumatran rhinoceros named Iman, which lives in a sanctuary in Sabah.

Tam, the only male rhinoceros, died in May.

Iman is said to be ill with uterine fibroids. Despite its condition, Iman is still producing eggs.

“Alhamdulillah, the Indonesian authorities have agreed and we are grateful for their cooperation in fulfilling the desire of the state government to protect the animal from going extinct,” added the chief minister.

A memorandum of understanding on the matter is expected to be signed between the Indonesian government and Sabah next month.