SFC and OPSB ink MoU on conservation, ecotourism collaboration

Zolkipli (first row, third right) and Biddle (fourth left) exchanging documents after the signing of MoU.

KUCHING, Feb 22: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Orangutan Project Sdn Bhd (OPSB) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to renew a long-term collaboration between the two parties to promote conservation, ecotourism and a volunteer programme at Matang Wildlife Centre.

The MoU was signed by Zolkipli Mohamad Aton, the chief executive officer (CEO) of SFC and controller of Wild Life and Leo Biddle, the founder/CEO of OPSB.

Bearing witness were Oswald Braken Tisen and Abang Arabi Abang Aimran, deputy CEO of SFC.

SFC is now in its 15th year of collaboration with OPSB. There were several successful collaborative projects between them including the followings:

a. The release of over 100 seized slow lorises (Nycticebus borneanus), of which 20 per cent were monitored six months via radio-collars after the release. The data suggested a survivorship of around 80 per cent for these monitored animals. The animals were seized from illegal traders, collectors, hunters as well as Sarawakians who surrendered these animals after realising that they were totally protected animals.

b. Release of five pangolins (Manis javanica) and monitoring of them via radio-collars for over a seven-month period where an 80 per cent survival rate was registered;

c. Data collection on the project of hand-rearing of baby silvered langurs (Trachypithecus cristatus) to adulthood;

d. Engagement of about 2,000 volunteers in SFC and OPSB’s orang-utan programme since 2005 where the project involved construction and maintenance of facilities for orang-utans.

Zolkipli said Matang Wildlife Centre will continue to be the platform for the relationship between SFC and OPSB to be further strengthened.

“SFC will actively engage with OPSB and specialists in their network to enhance conservation and protection of wildlife,” said Zolkipli during the ceremony.

He also indicated that the Sarawak government aspires to improve its wildlife conservation programmes as it sees itself as the guardian of protected areas and wildlife in Sarawak.

Meanwhile, Biddle said it was heartening to know of SFC’s plan for conserving wildlife and their habitats as well as SFC’s concern over the welfare of captive wildlife.

“We are most happy with the MoU as OPSB is able to plan ahead with our work at Matang Wildlife Centre, despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Biddle during the MoU signing ceremony.

As animal welfare is also an important component of the work on captive Totally Protected and Protected wildlife, SFC will continue to working with OPSB and their network on further animal welfare training and welfare issues.

In the long term, SFC intends to improve the welfare of all licensed wildlife in captive situations, especially those that cannot be released under various circumstances. — DayakDaily