The Sabah Terrestrial Conservation Programme (STCP) aims to conserve Sabah’s unique terrestrial biodiversity. It advocates for the proper management of forests, conservation of endangered wildlife including the Bornean orangutans and the Bornean elephants, as well as protection of riverine ecosystems from further degradation.
STCP’s vision for Sabah is that the state’s forest, freshwater ecosystems, and endangered species are valued, conserved, restored and responsibly managed.
The programme works in close collaboration with key stakeholders including government agencies, namely the Sabah Forestry Department and the Sabah Wildlife Department, as well as other non-governmental organisations. STCP believes that it is only through collective effort that threats against forest and its inhabitants can be effectively reduced.
10-year Bukit Piton Forest Restoration Programme Completed in November 2019
The ten-year Forest Restoration work at Bukit Piton came to a close in November 2019 when the 2-year maintenance work on the final 134 hectares was completed. Over the ten-year period, WWF-Malaysia worked to restore 2,400 hectares at Bukit Piton Class 1 (Protection) Forest Reserve, in Lahad Datu, Sabah. Bukit Piton is home to over 200 Bornean orang-utans, whose survival was threatened by the isolated nature of Bukit Piton. Its habitat was also badly degraded in the past due to logging and forest fires.
Restoration works began in 2018 which saw WWF-Malaysia planting fast-growing fruit tree-species such as Laran and Binuang that would eventually serve as a source of food, shelter as well as a means of travel for the orangutans there. Today, orangutans at Bukit Piton can be seen utilising the planted trees. Mother and baby orangutans have also been spotted on numerous occasions, which is a good sign that the orangutans are thriving at Bukit Piton.
Endorsement of the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and Silabukan Forest Reserve Management Plan
The Tabin Wildlife Reserve and Silabukan Forest Reserve Management plan has been endorsed by the Tabin Management Committee. This 10-year management plan serves as a guiding document for protection of both the Tabin Wildlife Reserve and Silabukan Forest Reserve and its inhabitants.
Once approved by the Chief Conservator of Forests and implemented at Tabin and Silabukan, the plan will be used to mitigate human-elephant conflicts, connect wildlife habitats through the establishment of wildlife corridors as well as to improve habitats and work together with local communities to co-manage natural resources.
Collaboration with PDRM to Combat Wildlife Crime
Combatting wildlife crime has been challenging largely due to its complex and dynamic nature. Recognising this, the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has increased its collaborative efforts with the Sabah Forestry Department, the Sabah Wildlife Department and NGOs like WWF-Malaysia to combat wildlife crime. This collaboration has led to successful arrests by PDRM of suspected poachers, most recently during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period in Lahad Datu, Sabah.
The sharing of responsibilities in combating wildlife crime is deemed the most effective way to tackle this burgeoning problem. Currently, WWF-Malaysia is calling for the establishment of a Wildlife Crime Unit that is parked under PDRM. This unit will allow for the streamlining of information, effective monitoring of wildlife networks, data collection and crime analysis, adequate training on intelligence sharing as well as support for wildlife officers in states across the country.
Sentencing Guideline for Wildlife Crime Launched
The Sabah state judiciary established a new set of guidelines for sentencing of wildlife crimes. This guideline, which has been in the pipeline since 2017, was formulated together with the Sabah judiciary, Attorney-General’s Chambers, Sabah Law Association, the Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF-Malaysia.
Lauded as the first of its kind in Malaysia, the sentencing guideline addresses the failure of punishments meted out against poachers and illegal wildlife traders in reflecting the severity of their crimes. It is hoped that the guideline will help create a stronger deterrent to keep poachers away from wildlife.
Recognising the milestone that the establishment of guidelines has achieved in terms of wildlife crime, WWF-Malaysia and the Sabah judiciary were invited by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to present on the sentencing guidelines at the Bangkok Inaugural Judicial Roundtable on Environmental Adjudication, Rule of Law and Environmental Justice in August 2019.