One of the most biodiverse areas on the planet is found in Sabah, the northernmost state of Borneo.

Sunrise over the Danum Valley, on the northern portion of the island of Borneo, one of the last remaining primary rainforests in the county and one of the last remaining places on earth where Sumatran rhino, elephant, clouded leopard and orangutan live side by side. (Photo: A.J. Hearn)

Sunrise over the Danum Valley, on the northern portion of the island of Borneo, one of the last remaining primary rainforests in the county and one of the last remaining places on earth where Sumatran rhino, elephant, clouded leopard and orangutan live side by side. (Photo: A.J. Hearn)

Disappearing forests

In the last three decades much of Sabah’s forests have been destroyed due to the growing demand of the industrialized countries for tropical timber, paper, palm oil and “biofuels.” What is left is a patchwork of fragmented forest remnants in the midst of endless oil palm plantations.

Sabah, Borneo

Sabah, Borneo

Threatened Species

This fragmentation poses an imminent threat to the future of the island’s animals: orangutans—which constitute 80% of Malaysia’s wild orangutan population; the Sunda clouded leopard and other species of threatened wild cats; the Borneo pygmy elephant, found only in Sabah, estimated to number only 2,000; and the Bornean subspecies of the Sumatran rhinocerous, the most endangered species of all, with only an estimated 40 animals left.

Bornean orangutan (Photo: Sabah Wildlife Department/Danau Girang Field Centre)

Bornean orangutan (Photo: Sabah Wildlife Department/Danau Girang Field Centre)

Borneo Pygmy Elephant

 

Sumatran rhino (Photo: S-J-Yorath-World Wildlife Fund)

Rarely photographed clouded leopard cub, one of three animals previously recorded in Danum Valley, Malaysian Borneo.

Wildlife Corridors

To stem the loss, the Sabah State Assembly has introduced the “corridor of life” concept to allow wild animals to move from one place to another to search for food and give them the opportunity to propagate. The goal is to ensure that 55 per cent of the state remains covered with jungle.

Palm Oil Threat

Oil palm planted right up to the river edge along Kinabatangan.

It is common for palm oil estates to plant crops right up to the river bank, blocking the passage of animals. The corridor of life concept involves establishing 500m-wide tracts of forest corridors and riparian reserves, now divided by plantations, along banks of key rivers to serve as wildlife corridors for species to maintain viability.

The government is buying up land little by little while encouraging Non-Governmental Organizations to raise fund themselves to ensure ownership of the corridors is shared by everyone.

Camera traps and wildlife corridors

are proving an essential tool in convincing people who can make a difference that the animals are out there, struggling to survive on a planet that is being systematically stripped of its resources with too little thought to species other than our own. Stay in touch with ANIMAL POST for news of the corridors and up to date photographic evidence that we are not the only living creatures on the planet.

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