Malaysia: Endangered wildlife can have easier migration

Muguntan Vanar The Star 7 Feb 12;

KOTA KINABALU: A move is under way to connect the country's largest wildlife forest reserve, Tabin, with adjacent fragmented forests through wildlife corridors in Sabah's east coast Lahad Datu.

The move will facilitate the migration of critically-endangered wildlife through the newly established Segama Corridor Conservation Area.

Conservationists hope it would eventually lead to a narrow but continuous corridor from Tabin to Kulamba Wildlife Reserve, another important refuge for endangered species on the northern side of the Dent peninsular in Lahad Datu.

The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and the German-based conservation non-governmental organisation Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF) signed an agreement to improve a wildlife corridor between the isolated Tabin reserve with adjacent conservation areas recently.

Tabin Wildlife Reserve is one of the last areas on the Borneo island where large wildlife still coexist, including the Bornean Rhino, Bornean Elephant, Orang Utan, Banteng and Sun Bear.

“Connecting forest fragments is an integral part of our strategy to secure wildlife habitat in the long term,” Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said.

He said it was necessary for the department to be active in promoting the reforestation work throughout areas with wildlife as corridors and forest patches are much needed for wildlife connectivity.

“At present, there is an increase of reforestation work within wildlife landscapes in Sabah and we want them to be successful not only for the benefit of wildlife but also local communities who live close to these areas,” said Laurentius.

“To save endangered wildlife suffering from habitat fragmentation, we need to establish a network of protected areas of a sufficient size and quality.

“This will prevent inbreeding of currently separated sub-populations and help to maintain healthy population.”

RFF director Robert Risch said the outcome of their efforts would be a connected conservation area of more than 200,000ha, nearly twice as big as Tabin is today.

Leipzig Zoo from Germany and private donors financially support this reforestation project.