Con­ser­va­tion­ist ad­vises against rein­tro­duc­ing tapirs to Sabah

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

KOTA KIN­A­BALU: A pro­posal to rein­tro­duce the tapir to Sabah should be weighed care­fully as the state’s fo­cus should be on con­serv­ing its en­dan­gered species in­clud­ing the Su­ma­tran rhino, orang utan, ele­phants and tam­badau.

Con­ser­va­tion­ist Datuk Wil­fred Ling­ham said the state had lim­ited re­sources and habi­tat for its own wildlife.

“We have a sit­u­a­tion where en­demic species such as the rhi­nos are dis­ap­pear­ing and the ele­phants are un­der threat,” said Ling­ham, the for­mer state Tourism, Cul­ture and En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry per­ma­nent sec­re­tary.

“The fo­cus should be on con­serv­ing what we have in­stead of be­ing dis­tracted by rein­tro­duc­ing an ex­tinct species,” he added.

Ling­ham said there was also a lim­ited amount of pris­tine ar­eas for Sabah’s ex­ist­ing wildlife, adding that only 4,000ha were core vir­gin jun­gles in the 122,539ha Tabin wildlife re­serve.

He said the in­tro­duc­tion of new an­i­mals to Sabah had re­sulted in them be­com­ing the dom­i­nat­ing species, cit­ing as an ex­am­ple the tilapia, which was sup­posed to be bred in ponds but had dis­placed lo­cal fish species in rivers and lakes.

The African cat­fish and bull­frogs were also dis­plac­ing lo­cal crea­tures, he added.

Ear­lier this month, Akademi Sains Malaysias Tan Sri Salleh Mohd Nor said plans were un­der­way to rein­tro­duce the tapir to Sabah with three to four of the mam­mals to be translo­cated to the state from the penin­sula as early as next year.

He said there was ev­i­dence show­ing that the en­dan­gered crea­tures had once roamed the forests of Sabah but have gone ex­tinct there.

Sabah Wildlife De­part­ment direc­tor Augustine Tu­uga in re­sponse said there had been no for­mal agree­ment by the state gov­ern­ment on the mat­ter.

He, how­ever, ac­knowl­edged there had been dis­cus­sions among penin­sula and Sabah Wildlife of­fi­cials, sci­en­tists and con­ser­va­tion­ists about the pro­posed translo­ca­tion but no de­ci­sion had been made.

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