Best of our wild blogs: 23 Dec 11

New articles on Nature in Singapore website
from Raffles Museum News

Tuas quickly
from wild shores of singapore and TeamSeagrass

Birdwatching at Bukit Brown with Nature Society
from Rojak Librarian

Lornie Trail on 21 Dec 2011
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

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Safeguarding The Natural Heritage At Tun Sakaran Marine Park

Haslin Gaffor Bernama 22 Dec 11;

This is the first of the two part series on conservation efforts at Sabah's Tun Sakaran Marine Park.

SEMPORNA, Dec 22 (Bernama) -- The rich marine diversity at the Tun Sakaran Marine Park (TMTS), located on the east coast of Sabah, is closely watched by Sabah Parks.

The waters around the park contain the highest species diversity of any marine park in Malaysia.

Total species recorded includes 544 species of coral reef fish, 255 species of hard coral, 70 species of soft coral, 140 species of sponge, 265 species of mollusc, and 109 species of echinoderms.

The biggest marine park in the state, Tun Sakaran encompasses eight islands -- Bohey Dulang, Tetagan, Mantabuan, Bodgaya, Maiga, Sibuan, Selakan and Sebangkat -- covering 34,046 hectares of water and reef area, and 954 hectares of land.

Preserving such huge diversity in so vast an area calls for a delicate balancing act that Sabah Parks has to achieve.


Throughout its six-year watch over the marine park, Sabah Parks also had a hand in managing the community around the marine park as well.

Sabah Parks Director Paul Basintal revealed that managing the community living within the marine park is a real challenge.

Of the eight islands, five --Selakan, Mantabuan, Bodgaya, Sebangkat, Sibuan and Buhey Dulang -- are occupied by people who basically depend on the marine resources of the park for their livelihood.

Their population numbers 2,000, mostly fishing communities and a smaller number of sea weed farmers.

Ways have to be found to prevent the dwellers from over exploiting the marine resources without affecting their livelihoods.

Thus, Sabah Parks has embarked on a long-term solution by finding ways to reduce the population's over dependence on marine resources.


In helping the population look for other alternatives, Sabah Parks is helping them diversify into other areas, such as breeding abalones.

Paul pointed out that the research centre at Pulau Buheydulang is studying how to seed abalone using the stocks found off the waters of Semporna.

If the method is successful, the abalone seeds will be given to those keen in breeding abalone.

Paul added that the abalone takes six months to mature and be marketed, fetching up to RM40 per kg. The abalone could promise lucrative returns.

Sabah Parks also believes in educating the locals on conservation and the protection of marine heritage.


Although Sabah Parks has vested the powers under Sabah Parks Enactment 1984 to act against violators, the agency instead chooses to warn and educate them.

"Stern action, such as imposing fines and jail terms, will be the last resort as long as it is not a serious violation," he said.

Paul noted that in future the agency plans to set up a centre to culture pearls.

A trail will be developed leading to the summit of the hills in Buheydulang to woo those keen on exploring jungles.

Public amenities at the marine park will be controlled to prevent destruction of marine life.

With vast waters and reef, the marine diversity and reef variations are abundant.

Sabah Parks has therefore identified 56 locations around the marine park suitable for diving activities, because of abundant reefs and marine life.

The agency has decided to open several locations for diving in stages.

In a preliminary move, two diving spots close to Pulau Mantabuan and Pulau Sibuan have been opened to tour operators ,but the number of divers has been limited.

Other diving spots will be opened in the future to a limited number of divers, and closely monitored .


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