Concerted efforts needed to save remaining Sunda leopards

 

By NOOR ZAFIRA SHAFIE

KOTA KINABALU: There must be more concerted efforts made as Sabah’s Sunda clouded leopard numbering between 700 and 800 in the wild, is now threatened by human activities.

In this context, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) has taken the lead role supporting the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) in preserving the leopard.

YSD has been supporting the DGFC since April 2011 with a total commitment of RM3.96 million over a period of six years, to conduct research on three species- Proboscis monkey, Sunda clouded leopard and Bornean banteng.

In her speech, YSD Chief Executive Officer, Hajjah Yatela Zainal Abidin, said: “Yayasan Sime Darby is very supportive of these important environment conservation causes and since 2009, we have committed RM131 million under our Environment pillar to support not only initiatives but also crucial research in revitalizing as well as sustaining our ecosystems and the susceptible species that depend on them.”

YSD project chief, Muzdalifah Mohd Yasir who delivered Yatela’s speech at the Clouded Leopard International Workshop and Conference, here yesterday, said it is extending a support of RM1.46 million to support the cause and save the Sunda clouded leopard from extinction.

Muzdalifah also added that the Sunda clouded leopard research has had a very encouraging start.

“Four clouded leopards has been collared to assist in spatial research on the effects of multiple landscape features on their movement in fragmented and protected area within the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary,” she said. Meanwhile, SWD official, Mohd Soffian Abu Bakar said that all the protected Sunda clouded leopards can be tracked and observed frequently via satellite collars attached to the animals.

“On our part, we (Sabah Wildlife Department) also visit schools around the Kinabatangan area and we also do an exhibition field trip to create community awareness,” he said.

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said Sabah has large tracts of tourism areas and for now, the State has a big task in protecting the wildlife for the next generation.

“There are between 700-800 clouded leopards estimated by SWD and this is really important for our tourism industry because our wildlife sanctuary is unique,” he said.

Director of Danau Girang Field Centre, Dr. Benoit Goossens said the Sunda clouded leopard is now being threatened by many human activities such as deforestation.

“It is bad to lose such a precious species that we really should care about and in our centre, we breed the species in protected area and a small number of them must be cared for carefully,” he said later.

Director of WildCRU, University of Oxford, Prof. David Macdonald also added that the leopard is Borneo’s wildlife treasure and some guidelines or procedures for the species protection should be done to save it.

 
By : NOOR ZAFIRA
 
New Sabah Times