Poaching threatening rhino and buffalo at wildlife sanctuary

Poaching threatening rhino and buffalo at wildlife sanctuary
Forest under threat: A wildlife warden found tree stumps in an area in the Sabah sanctuary after hearing the sound of chainsaws.

KOTA KINABALU - Illegal logging and poaching continue to threaten the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary with at least two animals - the Sumatran rhino and tambadau wild buffalo - disappearing from the area.

Other animals such as orang utan, proboscis monkeys and clouded leopards were also disappearing, said Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goosens.

He said illegal logging and poaching had persisted in the sanctuary even 10 years after it had been gazetted as a totally protected area.

"In the last six months, wildlife wardens patrolling the Lower Kinabatangan area have reported several acts of illegal logging and poaching," he said.

The Danau Girang Field Centre is a research organisation on tropical biodiversity managed by Cardiff University and Sabah Wildlife Department.

Dr Goosens said the signs of illegal logging had been recorded within Lots 5 and 6 of the sanctuary near the field centre.

"Evidence of illegal logging, namely tree stumps and poaching, are continuously found in the Kinabatangan.

"What is needed to save Kinabatangan is a contiguous corridor of forest along the river.

"We need to increase the size and protection of forest corridors to protect wildlife in Sabah," he added.

Dr Goosens also spoke on the need to deal with the illegal wildlife trade to ensure the survival of wild animals.

Dr Marc Ancrenaz, who is scientific director of a French NGO called Hutan, said tourists' interest in the Kinabatangan region would cease if the area lost its wildlife.

"On one hand, we have to applaud the efforts of the Government and like-minded organisations that are supporting forest restoration efforts.

"But these efforts are pointless if illegal logging goes rampant and if more forest is converted to agriculture," Dr Ancrenaz said.

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