Tuesday, 14 May 2013


PATROL.... The newly established River Keeper Unit to patrol Lower Kinabatangan.

A SPECIAL river watch unit has been established to patrol Sabah's Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary(LKWS) in the state’s latest effort to protect wildlife against illegal activities such as encroachment into forest reserves, illegal logging and poaching.

The Kinabatangan River Keeper Unit was jointly established by the Sabah Wildlife Department, Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Programme (HUTAN) and Danau Girang Field Center (DGFC).

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said despite the department’s best efforts to enforce wildlife protection, it has limited resources to cover a vast area.

"The establishment of the river patrol unit would bolster the department's efforts to monitor and enforce wildlife protection against threats along waterways, especially in the Lower Kinabatangan region," he said.

Dr Laurentius added that river wardens, Mohd Syafendy Yajit and Sudirman Sawang were entrusted with the responsibility as they have years of experience working with HUTAN.

"Both have vast field-experience in working with wildlife, especially managing elephants. The River Keeper Unit will be working round the clock by conducting day and night patrols to monitor and guard against wildlife threats such as encroachment by land owners in riparian reserves, illegal logging and poaching along the 260 kms of river within the santuary," HUTAN's Scientific Director Dr Marc Ancrenaz said.

ENDANGERED.... The Kinabatangan River is home to Borneo's endangered pygmy elephants.

GFC Director Dr Benoit Goosens said the River Keeper Unit will also be tasked to study elephant behaviour in response to tourism activities along the Kinabatangan in order to develop specific wildlife watching guidelines for tour operators such that disturbances to wildlife in their natural habitat can be minimised.

Based at the DGFC, the River Keeper Unit will also closely monitor tourism activities along the Kinabatangan to prevent tourists from getting too close to the elephants. (Insight Sabah)

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