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Oct 26th - 08:27

Posted: Dec 12 2008, 12:16 PM
Borneo Rhino sanctuary for Tabin
Lahad Datu: A Borneo Rhino Sanctuary encompassing thousands of hectares will be established within the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
It will be fully fenced and patrolled daily, said Wildlife Department Director, Laurentius Ambu, following the setting up of a three-hectare enclosure for a Sumatran rhino that was rescued in August.
"Funding is crucial, which is why we have asked the Government, NGOs and corporations to help us make this a reality.
"Right now we are in talks with Sime Darby for a large contribution to help establish this fenced sanctuary." The cost of constructing the three-hectare enclosure alone amounted to RM200,000.
"We need millions of Ringgit to ensure we can establish the fully electric- fenced sanctuary," he said.
Following the Fourth Sumatran Rhino Conservation Workshop held in July last year, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun made a firm commitment to address the issue of the rapidly dwindling number of rhinos, Laurentius said.
"We know all too well that the Sumatran rhinoceros is on the brink of extinction and it is due to the commitment of the Government that my department and NGOs are working in tandem to revive this amazing species," he said, citing the work for this rescued rhino as a prime example.
While the department is the lead agency for the welfare of the rhino, the Forestry Department had arranged the construction of the new enclosure.
The rescued rhino was on Wednesday placed in the enclosure about the size of three and a half football fields - recommended living conditions from rhino experts brought in to assess the animal - and it quickly adapted to its new surroundings.
"I am very pleased to see this new enclosure for this healthy male rhino which will now have access to a larger area," Laurentius said during a site inspection together with representatives from Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora) and WWF-Malaysia.
The rhino, which was gently coaxed into entering his new enclosure from his paddock at about 11am, took a quick walk around its new home, which is cordoned with electric wires to prevent wild elephants from destroying the fence.
"At first he was shocked when he accidentally touched the electric wire and ran back into his old paddock," explained Dr Senthilvel Nathan, Chief Field Veterinarian of the department who monitored the rhino closely.
"But now he has learnt not to touch it again, as he knows that it gives him an unpleasant shock although it did him no physical harm."
By 4pm, the rhino ventured out of his paddock and disappeared into the forest enclosure.
Bora and WWF-Malaysia will assist the department in managing and protecting this rhino round-the-clock, 365 days a year.
"This is the first step before we establish the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary," said Laurentius.

Kees Rookmaaker

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