Fact of the Day: Did you know... Sabah is home to the world's smallest known sub-species of elephants - Borneo Pygmy Elephants!
Marine Day to promote coral conservation
As much as 10% of the world's reefs have been degraded beyond recovery while another 30% are predicted to collapse within the next 10 to 20 years. The reefs at greatest risk include those in Southeast Asia. There, human impacts are causing reef degradation that will have serious environmental effects in the near future.
Coral reefs in many of our seas today are increasingly threatened by human activities, which include blast fishing and cyanide fishing. Another no less damaging threat is coral bleaching, which occurs due to changes in global sea water temperature. This phenomenon can destroy coral reefs and affect marine life living in and around corals.
Transplantation programmes, where corals are transplanted from a healthy area to destroyed reefs, may help to revive reefs destroyed by these threats.
This was the message brought home to the 500 participants who turned up for the recent two-day Mabul Marine Day 2001 organised by Sipadan Water Village Resort in cooperation with WWF Malaysia. Stormy weather did not prevent them from taking part in various activities aimed at raising awareness of the causes of coral reef destruction and encouraging action to help protect these reefs. Local school children, the headmaster and teachers of S.K. Mabul, representatives from the Sabah Education Department, Ministry of Education Malaysia and Semporna District Office, villagers of Kampung Mabul, Kampung Mabul JKKK, the Police General Force, Seaventure Sdn Bhd, Scubazoo Images, guests and divemasters of Sipadan Water Village resort as well as coral specialists from Japan came together for coral conservation at the fourth Mabul Marine Day since this event first started in 1998.
The coral transplanting programme involved guests of Sipadan Water Village Resort who are mostly divers. This 'adopt a coral' approach aims to raise awareness on the causes of reef destruction and to encourage action to help reduce coral destruction. Transplanted corals are then monitored, their growth rates recorded and the data sent to the adopter to encourage them to be involved in and care for their transplanted corals. The coral transplanting activity was preceded with talks by Mr. Yoshi Hirata, a consultant attached to the Sipadan Water Village Resort, and Dr. Masayoshi Hayashi, Deputy Director of Yokosuka City Museum and a renowned coral specialist who has been a regular speaker at the Mabul Marine Day since 1999.
Other activities included a beach cleaning involving more than 400 villagers of Kg. Mabul and coordinated by the village JKKK with assistance from the Police General Force. Seaventure Sdn Bhd, one of the tour operators on Mabul Island also participated. The District Officer of Semporna, Encik Suhaili Riman in commending Mabul Marine Day said that the event would be of mutual benefit to everyone and should be continued. Guided snorkeling, conducted by divemasters of Sipadan Water Village Resort Sdn Bhd exposed primary school students of S.K. Mabul to marine life and the underwater world. A colouring contest provided students of S.K. Mabul and children of resort guests the opportunity to demonstrate their artistic talent and understanding of marine life. Ken Pan, Director of Sipadan Water Village Sdn Bhd in acknowledging that the resort has benefited tremendously from the corals and sea said that it was time to do something meaningful and try to give something back to Mother Nature.
Educating Young Minds
For most of his life, Tan Fong Kew spent his time doing what he loved most - teaching. As an educationist, he has devoted his time to nurturing the inquisitive minds of school children in Malaysian schools. And after 28 years on the job, he thought that it was time for him to leave the world of education and move on.
But after sometime, his instincts told him that this just couldn't be end of his teaching career. And so, after much pondering, Uncle Tan, as we love to call him, decided to join WWFM as an education officer.
A veteran educationist, Uncle Tan had no qualms about extending his help in nurturing school children in the field of environmental education. And while he knows that teaching is never easy, and can be a slow and long term process, Uncle Tan is far from discouraged. In fact, he has undertaken several major projects, namely the Green Model Concept Schools and Youth and Environment, yet another environmental education project for youths to foster closer ties with the environment. Apart from this, he was also deeply involved in the promotion of the 'greening of schools', training teacher trainers themselves and conducting environmental education across the curriculum.
Perhaps Uncle Tan's most significant contribution would be his efforts to promote environmental consciousness among the Chinese through talks and activities in cooperation with the Federation of Chinese Associations in Malaysia. For Uncle Tan, an educator has to assume several roles when working with people. Thus, one truly needs to know one's target audience and how to deal with different people, in different situations, which Uncle Tan finds most challenging.
While some people may think that environmental education is merely for boring people, Uncle Tan seems to make people think otherwise. Over the years, he creatively gathered exciting environmental games and activities that provide visual and experiential knowledge to teachers and students alike. Uncle Tan feels that people need to have first-hand knowledge of nature and the threats that it faces, in order to inspire them to support an environmental cause.
So far, Uncle Tan has traveled to as far as China, Hong Kong, Nepal, Thailand and Sri Lanka to continue his mission as an educator. He was even invited to share his unique teaching techniques at the Asia-Pacific Education Programmes of WWF International.
In his years with WWF, he admits that one of his greatest achievements took place in February this year when the project he and his team worked on received a certificate of Meritorious Achievement "Spirit of the Land" Award which was presented at the Winter Olympics Environmental Awards ceremony. Known as Promoting Curriculum Reform in Malaysia, the project aims to integrate environmental education in Malaysia's education curriculum by working closely with the government and other stakeholders.
And how does this former educator maintain his vibrant youthfulness? "How, by being born again and being thankful," says Uncle Tan
Protecting our Turtle Heritage
The number of marine turtles in existence in the world today have been so drastically reduced over the last few decades that it has become a priority in animal conservation programmes. For some time now, governments and multinational corporations have collaborated their efforts to make people more aware of these gentle giants' plight, and to institute programmes that will improve the odds of more turtles surviving to adulthood.
Of the more than thirty species that have existed since the age of the dinosaurs, only seven have survived till today. Of these, only four species choose to nest on Malaysian beaches. Two of these species (i.e. the Leatherback and the Olive Ridley) are close to extinction. They need your help fast if we wish to leave these gentle giants as a legacy for our future generations.
A recent effort in marine turtle conservation is the setting up of the Ma' Daerah Turtle Sanctuary Centre, at a 1.7km-long secluded beach located between Paka and Kertih in Terengganu. This is part of an important green turtle nesting beach that stretches some 10km long. The Centre is funded by BP Petronas Acetyls Sdn Bhd, which sponsored the construction cost, while BP Amoco sponsored the Centre's public education and awareness programmes. Both stakeholders have manufacturing facilities based in Kertih.
Since the establishment of the Ma' Daerah Sanctuary Centre, about 350 green turtle nests, laid at the Ma' Daerah beach. The area is not open to the public as it is not easily accessible, being surrounded by hills. However, visitors may go on organised camps assisting researchers as volunteers.
The local communities believed turtle eggs have aphrodisiac value although there is no evidence to suggest so. Now, because of conservation programmes, their eggs are collected and reburied at hatcheries. It's ironic that turtles, which have existed since the time of dinosaurs have survived this long only to become almost extinct at the hands of humans.The turtles are facing many threats. Among them are:
- Commercial exploitation of eggs by local communities.
- Adult turtle mortalities and injuries related to fisheries activities, including incidental capture in fishing gear.
- Loss of nesting habitats caused by construction of barriers to the beach and clearing of coastal vegetation for infrastructure and tourism development.
- Pollution of marine waters by off-shore and land-based industries that pollute their feeding habitats.
- pollution of marine waters by solid waste disposal. Turtle mistake certain types of garbage as food and die from eating these.
Here is a list on what you can do to help turtle conservation efforts:
- Do not eat turtle eggs or buy any products made from any part of the turtle
- Lobby the local authorities to improve conservation legislation and the establishment of sanctuaries.
- Don't throw rubbish into the sea, especially plastic bags, as turtles often mistake them for food.
- Don't destroy the turtles' natural habitat, including coral reefs particularly if you snorkle.
- Adopt a nest in the Adopt-a-Nest programme to help increase the number of hatchlings produced and their chances of survival.
- Participate in volunteer camps where you can learn to monitor turtle landings, help to collect, transfer and rebury turtle eggs, release hatchlings and learn about the ecology of Malaysia's marine turtle.
- Obey the rules and regulations at turtle sanctuaries.
TIGER, TIGER BURNING 'BLIGHT'
The tiger has been a prominent figure in many cultures. In the Hindu Epic of Rama and Sita, the tiger served Hanuman, the Hindu Monkey God during his expedition to save Sita. In China, people interpreted the markings of the forehead of the tiger as the pictogram Wang, meaning "King", and honored it accordingly. A boy born in the Year of the Tiger is believed to have the power to ward off evil. In 1998, the big cat was chosen as the symbol for the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea.
However, this magnificent and gracious species is close to extinction! There were eight sub-species of the tiger, but three went extinct this century alone. This means that tigers could be disappearing at the rate of one a day!
Although tigers live secretly in dense forests, their biggest threat is man. Poaching or illegal killing of tigers, is considered as one of the main threat to the survival of this majestic cat. In Malaysia, habitat loss, and increased trade in tiger parts (for ornaments or consumption purposes) puts the big cat at greater risk than ever through its entire range spread over South and Southeast Asia. Find out more about WWF Malaysia's role in tiger conservation.
What WWF Do?
WWF Malaysia's work within the forest habitat includes studying and protecting wildlife species. One of our projects is a tiger-human conflict resolution study in Felda Jerangau Barat, Terengganu where these big cats are shot every day!
Yes we shoot tigers, on heat-sensored infra red cameras that are placed on trees and secured by thick cables. When the big cats cross the paths, their body heat triggers the cameras to snap quick portraits. Known as camera trapping, individual tigers are identified based on their unique stripe patterns. All tigers have their own unique stripes which means we can individually identify the tiger (like DNA fingerprinting) to determine the tiger population in the area.
Other criteria used to look for signs of a tiger's presence are pug marks (paw prints), tiger scratches on tree trunks, scrapes on the ground and any faecal indicators.
What is the tiger-human conflict all about?
WWF Malaysia works closely with the kampung folks to address human-tiger conflicts. This problem has seen farmers losing their cattle to tigers that wander into human settlements to look for food. Clearing of the forests for agriculture or human settlements have left the tigers with very little space to hunt and live (A male tiger would require an area with a 40 - 100 km radius to roam). As a result, the cattle become easy prey for the tiger especially if the cattle are left unattended. Unfortunately, some farmers shoot these tigers to protect their cattle as this is allowed under the Wildlife Act 1972. To avoid the cattle from becoming tiger food, cattle owners are advised to keep their cattle inside paddocks before 5 pm as the tigers' feeding times are between dusk and dawn.
Working closely with the local community, WWF Malaysia has recommended to the farmers to have heavy-duty paddocks to prevent the cattle from breaking out and to also prevent the tiger from entering the paddock. However, the local farmers could not afford to construct such paddocks. Thus, adequate amount of funds and raw fencing materials are being sought after to help the farmers protect their cattle from the tigers. In this way, WWF Malaysia hopes to reduce the tiger-human conflict at FELDA Jerangau Barat.
Tiger Conservation: what we have done and where we will be…
The Human-Tiger Conflict in FELDA Jerangau Barat (FJB)
Realising the urgency of the human-tiger conflict in Peninsular Malaysia, WWF-Malaysia embarked on a tiger project to mitigate the human-tiger conflict in 1999. Located in the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) oil palm plantations in Jerangau Barat, Terengganu, the project ran for four years.
Together with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN), FELDA management, Department of Veterinary Services, Department of Forestry and local settlers, WWF-Malaysia advocated proper livestock management to reduce incidences of tiger predation. With this, villagers are less inclined to shoot or injure the tigers, hence reducing the conflict between tigers and people.
Over this period, WWF-Malaysia has successfully gathered crucial tiger data by establishing a population database and proper monitoring system. At the same time, our scientific officer has engaged in numerous activities with FELDA settlers to heighten awareness about tiger conservation.
At the close of the project in September 2003, the conflict has been significantly reduced, with only one tiger attack reported since November 2002.
Planning the Future
WWF-Malaysia is currently looking at other tiger 'hotspots' in the country. Specifically, it proposes to work in the Kedah's Ulu Muda, Belum and Temenggor Reserves, both situated in the state of Perak and in Jeli, Kelantan.
WWF-Malaysia hopes that the medium-term programme planned for 2003-2006 will strengthen partnerships, intensify tiger research work and increase public awareness. Below are the planned guidelines to carry out this effort:
Restoring Neighborliness: Managing and mitigating human-tiger conflicts
The project site will be in Jeli, Kelantan. WWF-Malaysia will gather scientific information on tiger ecology through the deployment of infra-red cameras and construct a management plan to best identify the necessary mechanisms to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
Assessing Wildlife and Managing Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)
WWF-Malaysia will look at forestry-related data to ascertain the framework for proper wildlife assessment. By identifying the wildlife of a forest area, WW-Malaysia is able to advise logging companies or Forest Managers on how to adopt sustainable practices according to the Sustainable Forest Management.
Protecting Core Tiger AreasWWF-Malaysia will build on existing habitat information to advocate precise areas for total protection and buffer zones. The maintenance of remaining habitats is crucial to the tiger's future, along with protection from illegal killing.
Identifying Core Trans-boundary Forests for Tiger ConservationWWF-Malaysia will work to ensure the active management and co-operation on large trans-boundary forest blocks and on cross-border trade issues. This will need the close co-operation of neighboring countries in exchange for important tiger-related information.
Sulu Sulawesi Seas: Crown Jewel of the Western Pacific
The Sulu Sulawesi Seas stretching from Sabah's northwestern to southwestern coastline are rich in marine biodiversity. Nowhere in the world is there a richer variety of coral reef plant and animal life than in these seas. Surrounded by the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, the seas contain about 450 species of coral (compared to less than 80 in the entire Caribbean).
The coral reefs and sea turtle nesting beaches make the area a magnet for tourists. In recent years, however, over fishing and destructive fishing methods that use cyanide and dynamite have destroyed large sections of coral and depleted fish populations.
A new project in the Sulu Sulawesi Seas forms a collaborative effort with WWF Philippines and WWF Indonesia on transboudary protected areas. It is also a newly developing field of work for WWF Malaysia in Sabah, having started only in June 2000.
Spectacular Manta Rays and Submarine Caves
Five of the world's seven species of marine turtle - the green, hawksbill, olive ridley, leatherback, and loggerhead - can be found in the Sulu-Sulawesi seas. Migrating populations of 50 o 70-foot whale sharks and massive manta rays are attracted to the region by abundant plankton. An amazing abundance of fish species inhabit the region. Spectacular submarine caves provide shelter to several species of fish and crustaceans found nowhere else on Earth.
These seas are also a crucial spawning ground for commercially important fish species, as well as shrimp, and many other species that contribute to local, regional, and global economies.
Among the 22 species of marine mammals found in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas are the spinner, spotted, bottlenose, Risso's, and Fraser dolphins. Other marine mammals include the endangered dugong.
The Conservation Challenge
Coastal development, dynamite fishing, sedimentation, coral bleaching, and overfishing are taking their toll. The Sulu-Sulawesi region has among the highest human population densities in the world and that is putting enormous stress on the region's ocean resources.
An important fish habitat in the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas are being destroyed by people who collect coral for building materials and other trade, dynamite reefs to catch fish for food, and use cyanide to capture tropical fish for the live food fish and pet trade.
Mangroves, which provide crucial spawning grounds for many species of fish, are being cleared as the area's human population grows and as the demand for aquaculture and fuelwood increases. More than half a million acres of mangroves in the Philippines have been converted into ponds.
The historical lack of coordinated efforts among countries in the region to monitor the effects of economic expansion poses an indirect but major threat. Many of the region's resources have been exploited beyond their limits.
Because the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas span the coastal and territorial waters of three nations, a major priority for WWF in the region is to foster the development of a coordinated trinational conservation program. With offices in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines--as well as in more than 60 countries worldwide--WWF is uniquely positioned to help these nations explore the most useful options for preserving their shared marine resources.
A collaboration between Sabah Parks, the Marine Conservation Society (UK), Nature Link Belgium and WWF Malaysia with funding support from the European Union (EU) started in 1998 with the aim of promoting conservation and sustainable management of the Semporna Islands and reefs through appropriate use of natural resources.
The project, where WWF Malaysia's role is focused on education and awareness, seeks to involve the local community in planning for sustainable development.
The challenge for staff and communicators of this project lie in dealing with difficult social and political environments. Despite this, biophysical and socio-economic assessments have been carried out as well as the socio-economic factors that affect them.
Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary
If you want to see how nature works to prevent soil erosion or just want to see up close the unique flora and fauna species of a mangrove wetland, head for the Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary (KKCBS) in the state of Sabah. Open to the public in March 2000, this "wetland-in-a-city" is an educational eye-opener.
The state government designated it as a sanctuary in 1996 to help foster a better understanding and awareness on the value of wetlands. Located just 2km northeast of the state capital, Kota Kinabalu, the 24-hectare Sanctuary is the only remaining patch of a once extensive mangrove forest.
The site is fed by both saline and fresh water, thereby creating a unique ecosystem within which mangrove flora and fauna, and freshwater aquatic species, can flourish at the same time. The site is also an important refuge and feeding ground for many species of resident birds, as well as several migratory species from northern Asia. In fact, some 80 species of resident and migratory birds have been recorded here. The Purple Heron, for example, has already established a breeding colony at the Sanctuary.
Birds are attracted to the site's mangrove plants and trees. From the commonly found Rhizophora (which makes up about 70 to 80% of the plants found here) to the lesser-known Lumnitzera, these vegetation have a special root system that is specially adapted to the mangrove environment, where water levels can vary by as much as 50cm in a matter of hours! The roots of the plants alternate between soaking in water and standing on dry land every few hours.
Mangroves also act as a sponge by absorbing water during a heavy rainfall and later releasing them, thereby making it an effective flood mitigation mechanism. In fact, it is this regulatory function of the wetland that creates an important living sanctuary for the trees, plants, birds and fishes. This is the reason why the Sabah Wildlife Department, together with other government agencies and NGOs including WWF Malaysia, have formed a committee to oversee the development and management of the Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary emphasises educational and awareness activities, especially among students from the 15 surrounding schools. For this purpose, a 1.78km-long boardwalk, interspersed with resting huts, observation towers, and an outdoor classroom have been built for the convenience of visitors.
The site will soon accommodate an environmental education centre with basic facilities and equipment, including an exhibition area, multipurpose hall and a research laboratory.
Asian Rhino and Elephant Conservation Strategy (AREAS)
In the Wild
Borneo has a small but unique population of elephants. Several major portions of its former range in Borneo have been lost during the past two decades. Today, these gentle giants are confined to the southern and eastern parts of Sabah and the northwestern tip of Kalimantan. The greater part of this single population is found in Sabah. Given the remoteness of the area and the difficulty of the rugged terrain, the elephant population in Borneo, estimated to be more than 1,000 animals, represents one of the most important populations in Southeast Asia - provided its habitat remains intact.
Likewise, the island has an even smaller population of the Asian Two-horned Rhinoceros, also called the Sumatran rhinoceros. This endangered species numbers only 30 on the entire island of Borneo due to persecution for their horns and other body parts falsely believed to have medicinal value. This persecution continues still with the recent discovery of a headless Sumatran rhino outside the boundary of Maliau Basin.
Once widespread through mainland South-east Asia, today they can be found only in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and in the southeastern half of Sabah. This elusive creature is now a very rare animal found mainly in undisturbed lowland forests and its numbers are dwindling fast.
Threats from all sides
Asian elephants are increasingly threatened by logging, agricultural activities and unsustainable development, land clearing, settlement and poaching for ivory. These activities lead to human-elephant conflict. Elephants and rhinos, being wide-ranging species, need large areas of natural habitats to live and breed. A crucial factor in the survival of both species is, amongst other things, the availability of large enough areas that are managed sustainably to meet the needs of both human and animal populations.
Habitat loss through the forest conversion to other land-uses has had its toll on the Sumatran rhinoceros. Attempts to develop ex-situ conservation programmes by the Sabah Wildlife Department, for example captive breeding of these animals at a facility in Sepilok, Sabah has had little success.
Protection of scattered animals and small breeding populations throughout its remaining range continue to be a challenge for the Department. AREAS are in the process of developing a framework for the re-establishment and running of Rhino Protection Units (RPU's) in Sabah together with the state wildlife department.
In Sabah, WWF Malaysia and the Sabah Wildlife Department are working on a three-year study of the Asian elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros. Identifying suitable conservation measures and focusing on critical issues related to the conservation and management of the Asian elephants and Sumatran rhinoceroses will help to conserve viable populations of these large mammals in the state.
Understanding Major Threats
Understanding the major threats to elephants and rhinos helps AREAS personnel to be better able to help conserve this two species. They are thus working in partnership and cooperation to gain much-needed support for conservation efforts and long-term solutions.
Both these animals are possibly valid sub-species endemic to Borneo and are therefore important internationally. A GIS-based approach to landscape and habitat-use planning is used to help identify a suitably managed elephant range (MER) for southern Sabah and northeast Kalimantan as well as core rhino areas for conservation and management.
The project is currently creating a database of both species' distribution, migration patterns, population from ground survey data, monitoring the presence of animals' movements between Sabah and Kalimantan, and developing a Geographical Information System (GIS) for the Southern part of Sabah, as information on elephants and rhinos is very limited.
The AREAS project began conducting surveys near the Kalimantan border in May 2000 to identify elephant transboundary migration into both Sabah and Kalimantan. AREAS has also taken part in an expedition to Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Southeastern Sabah and carried out a preliminary elephant survey and tracking at the Deramakot Forest Reserve to determine their distribution in the surrounding area.
In addition to that, socio-economic and conflict survey activities for the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary are being carried out with the help of the Wildlife Department and two other WWF Malaysia projects. These surveys seek to identify conflict levels in five villages to gauge the villagers' willingness to be involved in a joint elephant management scheme.
This scheme will in turn come up with recommendations for a mitigation plan and tourism centre for elephant viewing. The opening up of land for oil palm plantations at the Lower Kinabatangan River (LKR) region has led to conflict between development and conservation.
Meanwhile, development of a geographical information system (GIS) for the southern part of Sabah continues. WWF Malaysia is looking to merge all the information and results with similar information of the Kalimantan area from WWF Indonesia to look into the potential of establishing transboundary corridors and managed elephant range in Borneo.
AREAS hopes that the success in conserving the forest habitat and wildlife in Borneo's (Sabah and Kalimantan) landscape would not only be the single largest conservation initiative for Sumatran Rhinos and Asian Elephants, but an accomplishment for the conservation of global biodiversity as well.
AREAS is also assisted by two other WWF Malaysia projects in the Kinabatangan area, namely MESCOT and HUTAN for their socio-economic and wildlife conflict surveys. Their work ranges from very detailed mapping work using geographical information systems (GIS) to surveys under the hot sun and rolling down muddy hills stuck inside a four-wheel drive!
Endangered Space - Malaysia Rainforest
Why Do We Need to Conserve our Rainforest?
Malaysia's land surface was once almost entirely covered with forest. Today, only about 50 percent remain under natural forest cover, the rest having given way to development of natural disturbances. As we write, an estimated 13 hectares of the world's forest are lost. In the next 30 seconds, another 13 hectares will disappear. Within a minute, mankind succeeds in undoing 1,000 years of natural evolution. Read on to understand a little more about what our Malaysian rainforest is all about, and how YOU can help us change for the better.
Malaysia's land surface was once almost entirely covered with forest. Today, only about 50 percent remain under natural forest cover, the rest having given way to development of natural disturbances. As we write, an estimated 13 hectares of the world's forest are lost. In the next 30 seconds, another 13 hectares will disappear. Within a minute, mankind succeeds in undoing 1,000 years of natural evolution. Read on to understand a little more about what our Malaysian rainforest is all about, and how YOU can help us change for the better.
The Malaysian Rainforest
The terrestrial forests in Malaysia are mostly dominated by trees from the Dipterocarpaceae family, hence, the term "dipterocarp forests".The dipterocarp forest occurs on dry land just above sea level to an altitude of about 900 metres. The term "dipterocarp" specifically refers to the fact that most of the largest trees in this forest belong to one plant family known as Dipterocarpaceae. It was so called because their fruits have seeds with two wings (di = two; ptero = wing; carp = seed).
This type of forest can be classified according to altitude into lowland dipterocarp forest (LDF), up to 300 meters above sea level, and hill dipterocarp forest (HDF) found in elevation of between 300 and 750 meters above sea level, and the upper dipterocarp forests, from 750 to 1,200 meters above sea level. However in Sarawak both the lowland and hill dipterocap forests are known as mixed-dipterocarp forest (MDF).
HDF, which is normally found in areas 500 - 700 meters above sea level, contains less undergrowth. It is a little poorer in wildlife compared to the LDF, but is the preferred habitat of birds and small mammals that are tree "specialists" such as the squirrels. The Rafflesia sp., which has the largest flower in any plant in the world, is often found in these forests.
At present, LDF is classified as a threatened habitat. There are very few areas of this forest type left outside of protected areas such as parks and wildlife reserves. While most of the country was covered with lowland forest in the past, today the majority has been cleared for other land uses, and the few remaining pockets are under threat.
There are some pockets of lowland forests near urban centers such as the Sungai Buloh Reserve, Kanching Forest Reserve (part of which is the popular Templer's Park) and Ampang Forest Reserve outside Kuala Lumpur. These areas, however, are under intense pressure from development and these islands of natural lowland forests are shrinking rapidly.
Beautiful and relatively undisturbed LDF can be found in Taman Negara in Peninsular Malaysia, Lambir Hills National Park in Sarawak and in the Maliau Basin, Sepilok Forest Reserve and Danum Valley in Sabah. But there is a real need to conserve the remaining areas of LDF that remain in other parts of the country.
Most of the dipterocarp forest left in Malaysia is HDF. This is because the terrain upon which HDF is found is usually hilly and rugged, making it unsuitable for agriculture or large-scale settlements, as well as being difficult to access and clear. Timber extraction from these areas is also more difficult, but improving technology may alter this situation.
The lowland forest is one of the most complex, dense and species-rich forests. So on one hand it has great value for wildlife conservation and scientific research; on the other, it is the type of forest that's under great threat because of its value for commercial timber extraction. And therein lies the dilemma.
The term tropical lowland forest is used to describe forest where there is little or no seasonal water shortage and where the climate is continuously warm and humid (humidity can reach 100% at night). Within this environment there are more than 2,000 species of tree and plant forms, as well as a diverse range of animal and insect species. Some are endangered, some are endemic, while there are others that have yet to be discovered and studied.
The tree canopy of a lowland forest has three layers. The upper layer towers at between 30 to 40 m, with occasional giants of 60 m, while the second layer is between 23 to 30 m. The lower level is made up of saplings of a number of species. The ground vegetation is often sparse and comprises mainly small trees, and herbs.
Spend 24 hours trekking in a lowland forest and you'd a see a fascinating diversity of animal and plant life and experience so many other sensations that will hopefully draw you further into the forest.
The day typically begins with a misty dawn. As the mist slowly dissipates, the air will reverberate by the calls of various animals -- primates such as the Bornean gibbon and pig-tailed macaque, or bird songs of the straw-headed bulbul and hornbills. While you are assailed with these noises, and examine the various fungi, ferns, pitcher plants and wild orchids and watch out for the painted leech!
By mid-morning, it will be quieter as the animals settle down to feed, although birds will continue to fly past in flocks. This is the perfect opportunity for bird-watchers: tree-boring barbets that never seem to shut up their incessant drilling, ground-dwelling pheasants trying to attract females in a rarely seen courtship dance. But don't be startled when sudden crashing sounds in the undergrowth announce the arrival of a bearded pig (so named for the bushy tufts of bristles on both sides of its snout).
With such a profusion of tree life in a lowland forest, you can certainly expect many fruiting trees. If you see a cluster of fig trees, you might catch a glimpse of the magnificent hornbills.
The dusk brings with it its own cacophony of sounds too as swarms of swallows and swifts swoop down low on the river for a last drink before retiring for the night. Bats such as the large Flying Fox (which has a wingspan of 1.5 m) will emerge from their roosts in tall trees and caves to feed on flower nectar and fruits, and in the process help pollinate many forest trees.
On a night walk armed with just a torchlight, explore things that glow, glimpse nocturnal and gliding animals, and night insects.
How do you tell if there's a living and breathing creature nearby? Keep your eyes peeled for tiny, glowing spots of light. They are actually eyes -- fireflies, beetles, glowworms, etc. Or if the glowing things looking bigger than round dots, they could be luminous fungi growing on decaying wood. Or gliding animals such as the Wallace's tree frog that glide from tree to tree to get to the ground; nocturnal animals such as the pangolin (or scaly anteater) -- all these make their presence at night.
Endangered Coral Reefs
One of the most amazing and spectacular wonders of the marine world is the coral reef and its staggering variety of inhabitants. But now, after decades of over-exploitation and the effects of pollution, reefs are highly threatened and their loss can be very detrimental to us all.
Coral reefs occupy less than 1% of the marine environment, but they are home to more than 25% of all known fish species. But because the majority of coral reefs are located in regions known for extreme poverty and high population growth rates, they are particularly vulnerable to degradation.
Southeast Asia's reefs are the richest in terms of variety of species, but over 80% of them are threatened, primarily from coastal development, tourism and fishing-related activities. Yet there are very important reasons for their conservation, namely:
- Reefs maintain fisheries resources. Coral reefs are important breeding, feeding and nursery grounds for fish. In Malaysia, as much as 30% of fish caught depend on coral reefs. So when reefs are preserved, the fishing industry is safeguarded, and with it a great source of food for us as well as the livelihoods of fishermen.
- Reefs attract tourists. As tourism can be a huge and lucrative industry, a healthy coral reef will attract scuba divers and snorkellers from around the world.
- Reefs protect our shorelines. Coral reefs also protect our shorelines from the erosive power of storms and waves by acting as a natural barrier. Between 70% to 90% of a wave's energy is absorbed or deflected when it hits a reef.
- Reefs save lives. Scientists and researchers are increasingly looking to the oceans in search of new drugs and other medical possibilities. According to one estimate, half of all new cancer research now focuses on marine organisms. For instance, chemicals from sponges were used in a new drug to fight against herpes and certain cancers.
- Reefs preserve biodiversity. Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems. If this is destroyed, so too would the many potential sources for new medicines and food.
Reefs are not dead or coloured rocks. They are an entire living ecosystem in itself. Some 3,000 species of reef life have been recorded inhabiting a single reef. A coral reef is actually a live colony formed from huge numbers of small animals called coral polyps. These polyps live inside limestone cups, and feed on plankton via its tentacles.
When a polyp dies, the limestone cup that housed it remains until the next polyp comes to live in it. This material builds up, with the living corals growing on top of the skeletons of past generations. They grow very slowly, so a careless kick from a snorkeller or diver can destroy decades of growth.
Coral reefs are also subject to other serious threats, including:
- Pollution from sewage that is pumped into the sea, or from chemicals (for example, fertiliser, industrial waste, oil and desludge fromDevelopment on land causes silt ships) that seep into the sea.
- The development on land that causes silt (from activities such as dredging, deforestation, etc) to wash into the sea. This silt not only reduces the amount of light that passes through the water to the reefs but also settles on them, thus smothering them and stopping new coral from growing.
- Destructive fishing methods such as blasting (by exploding a bomb in the water) and the use of sodium cyanide (which stuns the fish and enables them to be easily collected, primarily for restaurants and aquariums) not only destroy reefs but their inhabitants as well.
- Unmanaged tourism activities, while bringing much needed revenue, can have a negative impact. An increase in tourists can lead to an increase in coastal development, which in turn leads to increased siltation and sewage pollution.
The realisation that coral reefs are vulnerable has led to the establishment of several protected marine areas. In Peninsular Malaysia, the seas around forty islands have been grouped into five different administrative centres managed by the Department of Fisheries Malaysia, while three more in Sabah are managed by Sabah Parks.
Within these marine parks, any activity that destroys or damages coral reefs and their ecosystems is illegal, and these include fishing, collecting and removing of corals and shells, causing pollution, dropping anchors on reefs and the construction of any structure on them.
Mangrove forests are a unique ecosystem generally found along sheltered coasts where they grow abundantly in saline soil and brackish waters. An evergreen tropical plant, mangroves survive well in areas that are subject to periodic fresh- and salt-water inundation.
Mangrove trees have specific characteristics such as tough root systems, special bark and leaf structures and other unique adaptations to enable them to survive in their habitat's harsh conditions. The habitat is soft, silty and shallow, coupled with the endless ebb and flow of water providing very little support for most mangrove plants which have aerial or prop roots (known as pneumatrophores, or respiratory roots) and buttressed trunks.
Despite its smelly reputation, a mangrove forest is a very dynamic and highly productive ecosystem. It not only plays multiple ecological functions essential to its surrounding habitats, but is also an important resource for coastal communities.
A mangrove is a forest at the edge of the sea or the estuaries. It is found in the intertidal zone where the tide brings in salt water from the sea twice a day.
Mangrove forests form only 2% of the country's total land area, but the environmental protection mangroves provide are critical to us all.
A mature and extensive mangrove forest often has 'zones', where the types of plants found change as you move away from the sea. This has to do with the water and salinity level.
- protect coastlines against erosive wave action and strong coastal winds, and serve as natural barriers against torrential storms. The plants also prevent saline water intrusion.
- retain, concentrate and recycle nutrients and remove toxicants through a natural filtering process.
- provide resources for coastal communities who depend on the plants for timber, fuel, food, medicinal herbs and other forest products.
- if managed properly, a mangrove forest can be harvested sustainably for wood and other products.
- are essential to sustain a viable fishing industry as it is an important breeding ground for many fishes, crabs, prawns and other marine animals.
Given the enormous benefits of mangrove forests, proper management and conservation is therefore necessary to ensure the continued existence of mangrove forests. Conservation of mangroves can be enhanced by:
- Devising well-balanced coastal land-use plans, such as maintaining sustainable limits in logging activities and other harvesting activities of its resources.
- Retaining protective mangrove buffers along coastlines and rivers to prevent erosion.
- Managing mangrove forests as fishery reserves to encourage environmentally-sensitive commercial aquaculture activities. Instituting public education and awareness programmes among the public to discourage indiscriminate clearing.
- Creation of adequate legislative and institutional arrangements such as the National Forestry Act which recognises the value of mangroves and the need to manage mangroves sustainably.
- Introduction of social forestry schemes. Damaged forest areas can be planted and managed for small-scale village timber enterprises. Mangrove species like Rhizophora mucronata or R. mangle are particularly ideal for mangrove plantations as they are both fast growing and lucrative.
- Creation of nature reserves or national parks, for example the Matang Forest Reserve in Perak, the Kuala Selangor Nature Park in Selangor, and in Bako National Park in Sarawak, Likas Wetlands swamps and Sepilok Forest Reserve in Sabah.
Scientific Name: Paphiopedilum sp.
Local Name: Slipper Orchid or Lady's Slipper OrchidDistribution
- There are approximately 100 species of slipper orchids, all of which are entirely confined to tropical Asia.
- Slipper Orchids are found widely over Continental Asia (e.g., India, Burma, Thailand, China), including its outlying Asiatic islands (e.g., Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Borneo, Philippines and New Guinea).
- One of the most species-rich regions for slipper orchids is Borneo (12 species), it is exceeded only by China (18 species) and Thailand (13 species).
- Most species of slipper orchids are terrestrial orchids and are often found in the deep shade of the forest, although these orchids are also found on trees (as epiphytes) and on rocks (as lithophytes).
- The leaves are characteristic, often thick and leathery and tessellate (or with checkered patterns on their leaves).
- Slipper orchids occur in small populations of only several or more individuals, and are often restricted to only very specific habitats (e.g., limestone, peat-swamp forests).
- Slipper orchids owe thier name to the pouch-like labellum (in simplistic terms, the lower most petal of the orchid) which is said to resemble a ladies slipper.
- The characteristic of its flower, the presence of the enlarged lip and possessing two, rather than one, fertile anthers usually distinguishes the slipper orchid from all other known orchids.
- Usually, a single terminal flower arises from the centre of the leaves bearing one flower, sometimesthree or more, rarely two..
- The side-petals (or lateral petals) are often distinctively long, and spread out horizontally on either side of the flower. These petals in some species can reach impressive lengths, such as in P. sanderianum, the lateral petals have been known to reach at least a meter long!.
- February to April are the best times to catch a slipper orchid in bloom. The flowers are not usually scented but they are very long-lasting, usually up between 4 to 8 weeks.
- Slipper orchids are almost always confined to the highlands and occur in very low population densities, two factors that contribute to their vulnerability.
- These orchids are much prized by orchid collectors, and although many of the most spectacular orchids are already in cultivation, trade in wild slipper orchids continues and threatens all wild populations.
- However, the underlying threat to slipper orchid conservation is the deforestation of large tracts of montane forest in Malaysia.
- The trade of wild orchids needs to be monitored and if possible, specific legislations will need to be in place to safeguard this beautiful orchid by law.
- A number of slipper orchid populations are within important protected areas, such as Kinabalu Park, Sabah (5 species), Gunung Mulu (two species) and Bako (one species) National Park in Sarawak.
- One mechanism to curtail and monitor the orchid trade of slipper orchid is to have all slipper orchids listed under Appendix I of CITES, which effectively bans all international trade of wild-collected species.
- Nonetheless, a number of Malaysian slipper orchids are currently in cultivation (abroad and locally), and represents an important genetic resource that will ensure the survival of a number of slipper orchids.
Scientific Name: Zingiber spp.Distribution
- The entire ginger family comprises about 1,200 species, of which about 1,000 are found in Asia. The richest area is the Malesian region (Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea).
- There are 8 ginger families -- four of them feature 5 stamens while the rest have one stamen. The species found in Peninsular Malaysia belong to the one-stamen families, namely Costaceae and Zingiberaceae.
- Gingers thrive in a wide range of habitats, ranging from riverine to limestone rocks and from the lowlands to the upper montane regions. But all of them grow best in wet humid conditions.
- Some 20 species have been cultivated for commercial use as spices, condiments, flavours, vegetables (known locally as ulam), medicine, ornamental plants and cut flowers. Both the roots and rhizomes are valued for its aromatic compounds while the flowers are used for ornamentation.
- Varies in height and size, from the gigantic erect leafy shoots of the Alpinieae (kantan or Etlingera elatior) which can grow as high as 8 m to Kaempferia galanga and Camptrandra parvula which are no more than 10 cm tall.
- They are perennial herbs where the rhizome may be short or long, grow below or above ground. Each rhizome, which is usually fleshy, typically turns upwards into an erect leafy shoot, sometimes with buds near its apex forming new rhizomes which behave in the same way.
- Leaves are concentrated in the upper part of the stem, with leaf sheaths that are tubular and closed (opened in the Zingiberaceae species). Flowers appear from a cluster or flowering head on the stem.
- habitat loss
- over collection of rare gingers
- outside of existing protected areas, ex-situ conservation areas (botanic gardens) and private gardens are an important storehouse of the ginger biodiversity.
Scientific Name: Rafflesia spp.
Malay Name: Bunga PadmaDistribution
- Lowland forests in Malaysia. In Sabah and Sarawak, also reported from highland areas
- Seven out of fifteen species worldwide of Rafflesia can be found in Malaysia.
R.cantleyi and R.kerrii are found in Peninsular Malaysia whereas R.arnoldii, R. pricei, R. keithii, R. tuan-mudae and R. tengku-adlinii in Sarawak and Sabah. R.kerrii, R. keithi, R. tuan-mudae and R. tengku-adlinii are endemic to Malaysia.Description
- The world’s largest flower weighing about 9 kg and almost 1 meter wide
- Totally dependent on one particular vine called Tetrastigma (related to the grapevine)
- The Rafflesia is a disembodied flower. A rootless, leafless and stemless parasite, it drains nourishment and gains physical support from its host vine. Its only body outside the flower consists of strands of fungus-like tissue that grow inside the Tetrastigma vine. It first manifests itself as a tiny bud on the vine's stem.
- Over a period of 12 months, it swells to a cabbage-like head that bursts around midnight under the cover of a rainy night to reveal this startling, lurid-red flower. Beauty turns beastly in only a few days. The Rafflesia only flowers for 5 to 6 days, before the petals blacken and the flower withers. The "flowering beast" begins to smell like rotting meat, attracting blue bottle flies for pollination.
- Most species are highly localised and are therefore vulnerable to extinction because of habitat disturbance and host cutting from activities such as land clearing, logging, and ethnobotanical collecting. The first two activities are important in threatening the Bornean species, while in the peninsular over-collecting by local people who sell the buds for medicine is apparently the greatest threat.
- Because of its rarity, knowledge of the biology and ecology of Rafflesia has been slow to accumulate. Even today, little is known about its reproductive biology and distribution, which in itself poses many problems for its conservation.
- As Rafflesia is found in only a handful of localities, its long-term survival is now seriously threatenend by the depletion of the Malaysian rainforest.
- Recent successes from Sabah have indicated that Rafflesia can be artificially grown on host plant!
- Several areas where the Rafflesia spp. are protected includes Kinabalu Park and Crocker Range Park in Sabah and Gunung Gading National Park in Sarawak. To a certain degree, it maybe protected within Taman Negara but the species is certainly found in the Proposed Ulu Muda and Belum Conservation Areas in Peninsular Malaysia.
Scientific Name: Cyathea spp.Distribution
- There are about 700 species of tree ferns, all of which can be categorised into two families: Cyatheaceae and Dicksoniaceae. Malaysia's tree fern species belong to the Cyatheaceae family, of which the C. contaminans, a mountain specie, is the tallest.
- The tree fern can be found at altitudes of up to 1,700m, and also in fairly low altitudes, especially near rivers where shade and plenty of water is available.
- They can often be found in abundance on the edge of forests beside roads, open spaces and regenerated forests.
- They are popular choice in landscaping and gardens because of their tall trunks and attractive collection of large, highly dissected fronds at the top.
- At a quick glance, a tree fern looks like a palm tree, but it is easily distinguished by its large fronds at the top of the trunk, with roots growing out from almost the whole surface of the trunk except the area just below the crown.
- The roots grow in all directions and become entangled with each other to form a very tough fibrous black cover for the trunk, a perfect base for other smaller epiphytic ferns and orchids to grow from.
- Another characteristic feature is the covering of scales on young fronds, when they are coiled up at the top of the trunk.
- Tree ferns have no flowers, and therefore no fruits or seeds. They reproduce via its microscopic spores, which are dispersed by wind. The spores appear on the lower surface of the leaves.
- The tallest specie, C. contaminans, is easily recognised by their glaucous, purplish and thorny stripe bases of the fronds.
- Another species, the Golden Chicken Fern (Cibotium barometz) has a unique feature -- its thick covering of golden hairs. It was once traditionally used to stem bleeding wounds, they are now being collected and sold to tourists as a so-called charm to ward off evil.
- Indiscriminate collection by collectors and dealers in unique-looking plants.
- Loss of habitat caused by development pressure and forest logging activities.
- Placing of all cyathea species on Appendix 1 of the CITIES list to curtail international trade in wild collected species.
- legislate to protect species from local collectors.
- propogate the species by raising them in nurseries. This will take the presure off the wild collection.
Scientific Name: Elephas maximusDistribution and population
- In Borneo, it is largely concentrated in northern Kalimantan and northeast Sabah (particularly the floodplains and tributaries of the Kinabatangan River). About 1,000 to 2,000 individuals are believed to be still roaming these forests.
- In Peninsular Malaysia, they are widely distributed, from Kedah in the north to Johor in the south, and from Selangor in the west to Trengganu in the east. It is estimated that there are about 1,000 elephants left in the Peninsular Malaysia.
- The Asian elephant is the largest forest herbivore in the world. An adult elephant can eat up to 150kg of vegetation in a day.
- It feeds mostly on monocotyledon species of palms, grasses and wild bananas. They also like to frequent salt licks to assuage their mineral requirements.
- Usually travels in small female-dominated groups of about 8, but large groups can sometimes be seen gathering in open feeding grounds, especially along river banks.
- Despite their size and strength, the Asian elephant is actually quite docile and would rather shy away from humans and rarely endanger humans. However some individuals -- especially the bulls -- can be quite dangerous in specific circumstances. It can kill with its tusks, forehead and trunk, and by biting.
- The female adult gives birth to one calf at a time, after a gestation period of 21 to 22 months, and has a long reproductive span. Some cows have been known to have calves even past 60 years.
- Elephants are generally quiet animals but their trumpeting can be heard many kilometers away. They teach their young by example, using a wide variety of vocalisations to communicate mood, intent and desire.
- The primary threat to their continual survival is the rapid loss of habitat, particularly when forests are cleared for agricultural and other development purposes.
- Elephants are sometimes captured and translocated, removing them from their original habitat, to other areas where they may have to compete with resident elephants for resources.
Conservation initiatives will have to:
- Assess the management of land use of areas surrounding remaining habitat forests so that problem areas (such as where it can disturb the elephants' traditional pathways) can be identified and resolved.
- Look into possibilities of providing corridors of secondary forest linking feeding grounds within the Kinabatangan region.
- Employ measures to reduce elephant depredation on agricultural settlements such as relocating them, and the use of ditches, trenches and electric fences.
- Support the gazetting of more wildlife reserves and wildlife sanctuaries such as the proposed Kinabatangan Wildlife Reserve and Endau-Rompin National Park.
Scientific Name: Nasalis larvatus
Malay Name: Monyet Belanda or BangkatanDistribution, habitat and behaviour
- Endemic to Borneo. Can be found along the coastal areas, mangrove swamps and riverine forests of Borneo.
- In 1977, there were about 6,400 of them in Sarawak, but now there are only about 1,000, with perhaps another 2,000 in Sabah and 4,000 in Kalimantan. Some populations along the west coast of Sabah have disappeared entirely.
- The only known reserves to have a sustained and secure proboscis population are Tanjung Puting and possibly Mount Palung National Park in Kalimantan.
- A very bizarre-looking primate, the tree-dwelling proboscis monkey gets its name from its huge pendulous nose. The nose overhangs the mouth and the monkey has to push it aside in order to eat. The female has a shorter and more snubby version.
- They have pot bellies and are very noisy primates with their strange honking sounds.
- Only primate species adapted for swimming with some webbing between its fingers. They are proficient swimmers, moving quietly (so as not to attract its natural predator, the crocodile) using a form of dog paddle, and like to dive off a tree branch high above the water, sometimes with babies clinging to their mothers' fur.
- The male averages 24kg in weight, twice as much as the female. Hence it tends to move more carefully than the females or younger males do.
- Adults have an orangey red coat, greyish on their bottom half, and a long thick white tail. Newborns have deep blue faces with upturned noses, but assume adult colouring when they are about nine months old.
- Lives on a special diet of leaves, flowers and seeds of vegetation found only in riverine, peat swamps and mangrove forests.
- Because it feeds and lives in mangrove and riverine forests, the draining of wetlands and development along riverbanks for agricultural purposes and human settlement are its biggest threat through habitat loss.
- Peat fires.
- Sedimentation of lower river banks that change coastal soil ecology and vegetation.
- Now listed as an endangered species, their long-term survival is dependent on protection given by gazetted parks and wildlife sanctuaries such as the proposed Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, an important wetland in Sabah.
- Enforce protection, institute strict regulations on land use of wetlands and pollution management to minimise environmental damage to the specie's natural habitats.
Scientific Name: Macaca arctoides
Malay Name: Berok kentoi
- Found from southern China across to eastern India and down into the north of Peninsular Malaysia. Now rare in Assam and uncommon all over its range.
- Lives in dense forests and near cultivated land and villages. Fairly terrestrial but spends a great deal of time - including sleeping - in trees for the sake of food and safety.
- Tend to live in groups of up to 50 individuals of both sexes and varying ages, with a single group leader.
- The fur is dark chestnut and shaggy; the face pink or reddish and blotched; the buttocks and genitalia reddish. The forehead is bald. Crown hairs, which radiate from the centre of the crown, are short in front, longer at the back and sides. The tail is stubby. The newborn are creamy white, and reaches sexual maturity at the age of three.
- Head and body length ranges from 55 to 70 cm for males, and from 50 to 70 cm for females. Weight of adults are between 6 to 18 kg.
- Feeds on fruits, berries, leaves, insects and small birds. Feeds immediately upon waking up, especially if there are nearby Ficus trees. It then spends the day in the same area, wandering hardly more than 500m during the entire day. May travel up to 3km a day if feeding trees are scattered.
- Females have on average one infant every two years.
- Communication among stump-tailed macaques involves auditory, visual, tactile and olfactory signals. When alarmed, it gives out a short, harsh bark. Generally they squeal and chatter when feeding.
- Formerly exported in large numbers for biomedical research, especially from peninsular Thailand where there used to be a big population. Its export was banned in 1976, but some illegal trafficking still occurs, so threat from trapping still exists.
- Also affected by habitat loss particularly conversion of forests to agriculture land.
- When their natural habitats are destroyed, these primates often raid villages and agricultural crops in search of food.
- The ban on export of this species for biomedical research has been an important step in the conservation of the species but illegal trade needs to be stopped through stringent enforcement.
- The establishment of protected areas that can sustain viable populations, such as Thaleban National Park, and the proposed Perlis State Park, will be crucial for the survival of this primate in the long term.
Scientific Name: Ciconia stormi
Malay Name: Burung Botak HutanDistribution
- Low-lying forests, forested or freshwater streams and rivers, and peat swamp forests.
- West Malaysia (south of Panti Forest Reserve in Johor, Taman Negara, Endau Rompin), eastern Sumatra, Borneo.
- About 90cm (34in) in height.
- Orange-red bill with small knob at the base (when breeding only) and yellow skin around the eyes. White on head confined to throat, nape and hind neck. Legs are orange in colour. When in flight, dark underwing and breast can be seen, while its neck is held straight out. Tail is black, with white beneath the tail.
- Chicks are white and downy with a black bill and a black, bald crown. Chicks are incubated and tended to by both parents.
- Gives out a throaty karau and also claps bill. Chicks give out loud, harsh and repeated krack calls.
- Hunts alone or in small loose groups, commonly under the forest canopy, feeding in margins of swampy forest, and appears at salt licks.
- Feeds by probing their long bills into shallow water for fish, frogs, molluscs and crustaceans.
- Frequently soars on rising thermals and roosts high up in forest trees. Core habitat is the floodplains of large rivers, including the riverine swamp forest along lower Perak, now being cleared for agriculture.
- Loss of natural habitat
- Diminishing food sources
- Protection of habitat in parks such as Taman Negara, Kerau Wildlife Reserve and Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
- There is also a case to develop policies to protect flood-plain forests.
- There is a good case for captive breeding of this rare, endangered specie.
Scientific Name: Pongo pygmaeus
Malay Name: Orang-utanDistribution
- Freshwater swamp and lowland forests of Borneo and Sumatra.
- The subspecies of orang-utan Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus is endemic to Borneo
- Orang-utans are the world’s largest tree-dwellers
- The adult male is usually shorter than an average man, but is much stronger and heavier, weighing as much as 110 kg (240 pounds).
- Orang-utans live solitary almost nomadic lives, spending most of their time in the forest canopy
- They feed mostly on fruits, but also leaves, bark, shoots, stems and epiphytic flowers.
- Each day they will build themselves a nest of twigs, leaves and branches up to 1 m wide, where they will sleep in the afternoons or retire for the day.
- Reproduction is very slow, with an eight-year gap between births.
- Orang-utans are slow-moving animals and have been targeted by hunters and for the pet trade.
- As natural forests are converted to other land uses, competition for food and space occurs. Conflicts between orang-utans and humans occur in agricultural areas, particularly oil palm plantations.
- Loss of natural habitat
- Diminishing food sources
- Unsustainable logging
- Land conversion to agriculture
- Forest fires and poaching.
25th May 2006... Sipadan Reef Damages Assessed
Kota Kinabalu, 25th May 2006... Recent reports of total devastation to Sipadan’s coral reefs are grossly over-exaggerated. Last week it was reported that a barge carrying construction materials damaged corals at Sipadan. A survey to assess the damage revealed that the area impacted was 372 sq. metres (3,984 sq. feet) according to data made available today by the Director of Sabah Parks to WWF-Malaysia’s Vice-President Emeritus Tengku Dato’ Seri Zainal Adlin, who is also the Chairman of the Sabah Tourism Board.
“The incident was most unfortunate and should not have happened. Even though the damage is minimal, appropriate actions should be taken by the relevant authorities against the contractor for the unauthorised usage and encroachment of the barge into Sipadan,” said Tengku Adlin. He fully supports the Sabah Cabinet decision that all construction works on the island be suspended, the scope and the specifications of the basic facillities project be reviewed, and that development must be in harmony with nature.
A WWF-Malaysia report on Sipadan published in 1993 shows the total reef area to be 208 hectares. Thus, the area damaged by the barge is far less than 1% of Sipadan’s total reef area. (Attached photograph of Sipadan Island indicates the damaged coral patch). As mentioned in a previous statement by WWF-Malaysia, Sipadan is a relatively healthy reef. When faced with few stresses, damaged, relatively healthy reefs can naturally recover rapidly.
A management plan for Sipadan must be in place as soon as possible. The management plan needs to be based on sound science in order to manage all human activities on the island and its reefs. Additionally, an annual ‘state of the reef’ report showing the results of coral monitoring and numbers of visitors for the year would assist in the assessment of the reefs. This will highlight management efforts and provide interested stakeholders with information on an area that they care for deeply.
It must also be recognized that there is a difference between managing the security aspects of Sipadan and managing biodiversity of the island. Responsibilities of the island’s security management and of the biodiversity management must be clearly delineated. For the latter, Sabah Parks needs a full mandate and a proper management plan for biodiversity. Sabah Parks should be given full assistance by government, the private sector and local community stakeholders to manage Sipadan and other marine parks. WWF-Malaysia hopes that the management plan will be developed through participation and input from dive operators, divers and local communities as well as non-governmental organisations. A transparent, participatory process will build more capacity amongst all stakeholders to help Sabah Parks manage Sipadan.
“Sipadan is a national treasure that is also highly valued by people all over the world. The minimal impact of the barge accident will probably not affect the exquisite diving on Sipadan,” said WWF-Malaysia’s National Programme Director Dr. Dionysius Sharma.
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