SYMBOLIC HANDING-OVER…Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (3rd left) and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew (4th left) witnessing the handing over of 38 land titles by Saraya Co., Ltd and Borneo Conservation Trust Japan (BCT Japan) to the State Government through the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) at the Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club in Kota Kinabalu on Tuesday night (Oct 8). SWD Director Augustine Tuuga (3rd right) is seen receiving the documents from BCT Japan Local Coordinator, Yuko Kishi (right). Also present are Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk William Baya (left), President of Saraya Co., Ltd, Yusuke Saraya (2nd left) and Chairman of BCT Sabah, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu (2nd right).
KOTA KINABALU: Fund receipts from Japan for the purchase of land for wildlife conservation under the “Green Corridor Project” in the Lower Kinabatangan region for the 2008 to October 2019 period totalled more than RM4.6 million.
This was disclosed at an inaugural meeting with Borneo Conservation Trust Sabah (BCT Sabah), Borneo Conservation Trust Japan (BCT Japan) and Japan-based Saraya Co., Ltd, last Sunday.
Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Augustine Tuuga said statistics provided by BCT Sabah showed that 38 lots covering an area of 93 hectares (or 230 acres) were purchased by BCT Japan and Saraya through BCT Sabah under the BCT Land Acquisition exercise.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew, who chaired the meeting, said it was to pave the way for the official handing over of the land titles to the State Government (which was executed on Oct 8).
BCT Japan is a conservation partner of BCT Sabah. BCT Sabah is the Trustee for the lands bought with contributions from BCT Japan and Saraya.
BCT Sabah and BCT Japan) were established in 2006 and 2008 respectively, with a view to working with the State Government on wildlife conservation in efforts to save endangered species (through the Sabah Wildlife Department). One such effort is to restore Sabah’s wildlife corridors (also known as wildlife habitats).
BCT Sabah is a non-profit NGO incorporated under the Trustee’s Ordinance 1951, Cap – 148 (Sabah). BCT Japan is a non-profit corporation dedicated to establishing environmental sustainability for human co-existence with nature, and to preserving nature for future generations through nature protection activities.
At the meeting attended by the President of Saraya Co., Ltd, Yusuke Saraya, who is a trustee of BCT Sabah, and BCT Japan Director Ishida Osamu, Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, said the State Government will duly recognise the noble cause championed by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in protecting and conserving wildlife in Sabah.
“The Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal appreciates the contributions of NGOs towards wildlife protection and conservation,” she said.
She noted that BCT Japan and Sabah Wildlife Department have worked together to implement conservation measures recommended in the Species Action Plan, which was developed in 2010.
“I am aware that Saraya and BCT Japan had also contributed towards the construction of the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) Centre in Kinabatangan, administration and upgrading of the Centre as well as elephant rescue operations from 2006 to the current year,” Liew added.
Giving a background of his company’s (Saraya’s) involvement in wildlife conservation in Sabah, Yusuke said the starting-point was in 2004 when Saraya decided to assist the Sabah Wildlife Department in the rescue of injured elephants, followed by their treatment and eventual release into their natural habitat.
Among those who attended the meeting were the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Datuk William Baya, BCT Japan Local Coordinator, Yuko Kishi and BCT Sabah Executive Secretary, Jessel Maluda. Also present were the Deputy Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Jum Rafiah Abd Sukor and BCT Sabah Head of Research & Conservation, Jimmy Omar.
Meanwhile, Yusuke commended the Minister for her proposal to convert the Green Corridor (acquired lands) into an Elephant Food Corridor and have it gazetted as part of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary for the benefit of future generations.
“This is an advancement from our original plan to protect and conserve wildlife in Sabah,” he said. One of BCT Japan’s initiatives is the “Green Corridor Project” (2008-2019) which aims to connect small remaining patches of forest areas to create one large, continuous ecosystem in the Lower Kinabatangan region.
Liew had reiterated that the proposed Elephant Food Corridor should serve to connect the key habitats (some of which are fragmented habitats) for orangutans, proboscis monkeys, Borneo pygmy elephants and other wildlife species (as just one Wildlife Food Corridor) in the Lower Kinabatangan region. Some of these animals are on the brink of extinction.
She had also stressed that government leaders come and go but good policies should remain, adding “Even if there is any change in the future, it should be for betterment”.