The acquisition of land has more purpose than just habitat protection. We can’t just go on thinking that if we set aside a bit more land and leave the forested areas untouched, nature will take care of itself.
Covering over 30,000 ha, Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the floodplains of Kinabatangan and is renowned for its rich biodiversity. This includes a collection of unique wildlife and avifauna such as the iconic Orangutans, Borneo Pygmy Elephants and the Rhinoceros Hornbills. It was initially proposed that that 60,000 ha of land was to be gazetted for conservation, but the pressure was too great that finally 30,000 ha, which was only half of the proposed land area was gazetted. The land was divided into ten lots, all of which are not contiguous and are separated by gaps, leaving it hard for elephants and other wildlife to move freely between them.
As more lands surrounding the sanctuary are taken over by development, logging and palm oil plantation endemic, the real problems began to manifest. To prevent these plantations from being encroached, electrical fencing have been put up around plantation areas, forcing the elephants to swim across the river as their migration route in search of food. As a result, human-elephant conflict has became more frequent, with the local community bearing the brunt as they could not afford electric fencing. Their crops are being raided and has left many of them helpless. However, some villagers have even resort to poisoning or killing the elephants as a way of protecting their farms. The fate of Kinabatangan’s inhabitants – human and animal alike – hangs in the balance.
BEST Society together with our supporting networks through Borneo Land Conservancy initiative, focuses on conservation efforts on a piece of forested land in Sukau measuring 7.7 acres as part of 'giving back to nature,what belongs to nature'. The land was up for sale and the decision to buy was made quick solely for the purpose of conservation and later, research and education. The area may seem small but vital as it serves as a home to our wildlife along the Kinabatangan River.
The acquisition of land has more purpose than just habitat protection. We can’t just go on thinking that if we set aside a bit more land and leave the forested areas untouched, nature will take care of itself. We are already in our 21st century and we need to rethink our approach. In line with this belief, BEST Society took another step further with the establishment of Sukau Ecotourism Research Centre (SERC) on the plot of land. We envision the centre to function as a collaborative space for research and education purposes.
In Sir David’s words, “The future of our life on Earth is dependent on the natural world – for the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we use – and for the feelings we have of awe and wonder at nature’s extraordinary riches. In this remarkable age we are learning more and more about the intricacies of our dependence on nature. Yet our natural world is threatened as never before. The threats are both numerous and interrelated, and no one institution, however effective, can hope to address them all alone.”
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