PETALING JAYA: Top primate expert Jane Goodall has called for the introduction of environmental education programmes in schools to encourage Malaysian youths to get involved in protecting the country’s biodiversity.
Speaking through a special video address for the British High Commissioner’s “Malaysian Nature Tours” webinar today, Goodall said it was important to incorporate such programmes into the national curriculum to help people realise the impact their daily choices made on the natural world.
“Malaysia, my goodness, has wonderful amazing rainforests with an incredible richness of plants and animal species.
“We need people who understand that we cannot have unlimited economic development on a planet with finite natural resources, many of which are being used up in some areas faster than nature can replace them.
“It’s our disrespect for the natural world that’s led us to the climate crisis which now threatens all life on this planet,” she said.
Goodall added that the government, business leaders, NGOs and local communities must come together and work towards creating a greener economy that could be enjoyed by future generations.
“Together we need to create a critical mass of people who respect nature and animals, and who realise we’re part of and dependent on the natural world, and that all the choices we make each day can harm the environment.”
Peter Ong, a representative from Roots and Shoots Malaysia, a youth-led action programme founded by Goodall, said they were discussing with the education ministry to spread more environmental awareness among the younger generation.
Ong said they were also working together with homeschooling groups to teach young Malaysians about gibbons, a type of ape, and their critical status in the country.
He said all five species of gibbons found in Malaysia were currently classified as endangered, with the biggest reason for its population decline being the illegal wildlife trade.
“You cannot love what you don’t know, and a lot of Malaysians are not even aware of the existence of gibbons in the country,” he said.
Ong added that due to the demand for baby gibbons, poachers are willing to kill the rest of its family to get their hands on the infants.
He said there were still many social media posts offering infant gibbons for sale.
Ong also said Roots and Shoots was looking into mobilising the ecotourism industry to act in tandem with gibbon conservation efforts and ensure economic sustainability.