Monday September 24, 2012
Primates at Sabah’s Imbak Canyon at risk of being hunted
By STEPHANIE LEE
KOTA KINABALU: A lesser-known conservation area in Sabah is proving to be an important wildlife habitat with a 15-day research expedition finding movements of orang utan in the area.
Researchers are now worried that the primates and other wildlife in the Imbak Canyon are at risk of being hunted by encroachers in the 30,000ha conservation area that is about the size of Penang island.
The survey programme's consultant Dr Rahimatshah Amat said cameras stationed at several locations caught images of limbs very similar to that of an orang utan, as well as proof of encroachment and poaching activities.
“Though there is no full picture of the primate itself, the image of a hand caught on some of our cameras along the eastern part of Imbak Canyon towards Danum Valley indicated a population of the animal,” he said.
He said colonies of the orang utan were also discovered along the west side of Imbak Canyon along with the movements of individuals during the survey conducted from July 5 to 20.
“However, we are not sure whether these movements were those of the primates or people,” said Rahimatshah, who is also chief technical officer (Borneo programme) of the World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia.
A joint patrol will be held by the Sabah Wildlife Department and other agencies such as Sabah Foundation and Petronas to look into the matter.
“There are signs of activities non-compatible to the conservation area as well as sightings of dogs there. By right, dogs should not be present within any conservation area. When there are dogs, it means people are present, too,” he explained.
Sabah Foundation group conservation and environmental management division group manager Dr Waidi Sinun said Imbak Canyon was increasingly becoming a refuge for wildlife.
“An ideal location for the setting-up of a research centre for this purpose has been identified and is expected to be ready by next year,” he said.
Waidi said Petronas, through its public awareness programme, contributed almost RM6mil for the Imbak Canyon conservation area.