Datuk Mah Siew Keong visits Sepilok

Press Article from The Sun Daily newspaper​ - 15th October 2017

Datuk Mah

SANDAKAN: Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong yesterday visited the world renowned Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) to better understand the conservation challenges of wildlife species such as the Bornean pygmy elephant and the primate.

A statement issued by Sabah's Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment here today said the visit was to enable the minister to get first hand experience of the activities of the Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) operated by the Sabah Wildlife Department and fully funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC).

"In many of his (Mah) discussions with his ministerial counterparts in Europe and elsewhere, the topic of orangutan conservation in Malaysia has been voiced and palm oil industry targeted as an activity that is driving this iconic species to extinction.

"At SORC, following briefings by the director (of Sabah Wildlife Department) and other conservation experts at Sabah Wildlife Department, Mah witnessed first hand various efforts that are already in place to secure the long-term survival of many of the iconic species in Sabah," the statement said.

According to the statement, during the visit, Mah was also informed that much of these efforts were made possible because of funding through the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF).

He was also briefed that the orangutan population in Sabah had now stabilised and sustains a population of nearly 12,000 individuals, a far cry from claims by Western NGOs that this orangutan population should have gone extinct by 2015 due to oil palm cultivation.

Even the number of orangutan sent to SORC for rehabilitation has today dropped to single digits, the statement added.

"He praised the pro-active wildlife conservation efforts in Sabah under the able leadership of its minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun (State Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment).

Datuk Mah took the opportunity to thank Masidi for supporting meaningful collaboration through palm oil industry funded conservation efforts by MPOC which resulted in the establishment of the highly active and visible Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU)," the statement said.

The statement also said that Mah wanted conservation efforts to continue and it would even be appropriate for the palm oil industry to demonstrate much greater corporate social responsibility (CSR) by making even larger contributions towards wildlife conservation in Malaysia.

"Overall, Datuk Mah was pleased to note the existing collaborative efforts between the Sabah state authorities and his agencies, through MPOC primarily," the statement said.