Sarawak proud to maintain its ‘natural zoos’ and promote ecotourism

Abang Johari (4th left) speaking at the press conference at his office today.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Jan 2: Sarawak is not keen on setting up zoos but instead would focus on making its wildlife sanctuaries as natural zoos, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He stressed that since Sarawak had many exotic wildlife, it would be better to focus on getting visitors to see wildlife in their natural habitat.

“Zoos are artificial, where you assemble all the animals and place them in one area.

“What we want actually, is to turn Sarawak into a natural zoo. If you go to Semenggoh you can see the orangutan. Then if you go to Bako National Park, then you can see the proboscis monkeys,” Abang Johari told conference at his office here today.

He added that since the proboscis monkeys were found only in Borneo, especially at Bako National Park, it had become a major attraction among tourists.

“We need specialists to study our wildlife and this way we can attract many nature lovers to Sarawak,” he said, adding how Sarawak also boasted other exotic wildlife such as its iconic hornbills and eyeless frogs.

“We can also focus on the frog race which is very unique,” he added, citing the upcoming annual international-level Bornean Frog Race which focused on promoting awareness, interest and education about amphibians and amphibian conservation around the world.

The chief minister was asked whether Sarawak was keen to set up its own zoo in view of Borneo’s increasing importance as a tourist destination, especially so after the decision made by the Indonesian government to move its capital to East Kalimantan by 2024.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datu Len Lalif Salleh said, the setting of a zoo would not be feasible as it would be expensive to run.

“Besides, if we want to see lions and elephants, we can go to Zoo Negara and go to Sabah. And personally, I am not in favour of setting up a zoo as it is very expensive, not the just the setting up of it, but also its maintenance,” he said. —DayakDaily