Japanese donors buy up land for conservation in Sabah’s wildlife-rich Kinabatangan

Julia Chan
Japanese Saraya Co Ltd president Yasuke Saraya handed over land titles worth RM4.6 million to Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga during a ceremony last night. — AFP pic

KOTA KINABALU, Oct 9 — Some 94 hectares of land in the lower Kinabatangan area have been purchased by Japanese donors for over RM4 million to be rehabilitated as a green corridor in the wildlife rich region in Sabah.

The Star reported that Kinabatangan-based Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) Sabah is tasked with rehabilitating the area as a forest corridor that will allow wildlife, particularly Sabah’s endangered Borneo pygmy elephants, to move between the fragmented forests without encroaching on private farms and plantations.

This would complement previous effort by United Kingdom-based World Land Trust who bought 131 hectares of land in the area for the same purpose.

Japanese Saraya Co Ltd president Yasuke Saraya handed over land titles worth RM4.6 million to Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga during a ceremony last night.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who witnessed the ceremony, lauded the move and said more groups and companies should help the government in its conservation efforts.

He said that the government has been making clear policies to prioritise conservation, such as stopping log exports even though it affected the state’s revenue.

He said the destruction of crops by wildlife was a much smaller threat compared to the damage inflicted by humans to the environment.

“It is not a licence to kill just because it encroaches into the area,” he said, adding that people who see them on their land should instead seek the assistance of the Wildlife Department if they needed to chase them away.

Meanwhile, BCT Sabah chairman Datuk Laurentius Ambu said there was still a need to acquire some 325 hectares that will link the forests into a corridor.

Such corridors are expected to reduce wildlife-human conflicts, by attracting wildlife through planting fruit trees to create a food corridor to ensure that they don’t stray into human settlements.

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