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Of manta rays and orangutans: Sabah wildlife news roundup

Published on 19 February 2018|
2 min read

It’s an eventful week for Sabah’s wildlife.

by Stanley P, Carrybeans

It’s no secret that Sabah is rich with its wildlife diversity. Tourists and animal lovers come from all over the globe to appreciate the wonders of our fauna. However, activities such as illegal hunting and forest clearing are threatening the lives of the animals. This is hurting not only the animals, but also the whole ecosystem.

The past week has been quite remarkable for wild animals in Sabah, for better or for worse. So, let us see what has been happening lately with Sabah’s wildlife.


Manta rays and shark slaughtered

Tourists at Mabul Island in Semporna were shocked recently when they witnessed people at the nearby village killing manta rays and shark. According to a report by The Borneo Post, a total of two manta rays, 13 devil rays and one shark were slaughtered by a few fishermen in the village.

The news obviously upsets many wildlife conservationists in the state. However, manta rays are grouped in Appendix II of CITES and the act of collecting the manta ray’s flesh for local consumption is actually not illegal.

But there is a good news for the manta ray species in Sabah! The government is in the process of including two species of manta rays into the 1985 Fisheries Act. This means that it will be illegal to catch and consume manta rays, even domestically.


Bornean orangutan population decreasing at an alarming rate

Credit: Eric Kilby

According to a recently published research, the Bornean orangutan population in Borneo is dwindling fast. According to an article by Reuters, the population has reduced by 50% in the period of 16 years from 1999 to 2015.

The researchers estimated that there are around 200,000 to 300,000 Bornean orangutans in 1999. However, the numbers has decreased to around 70,000 to 100,000 in 2015. If that’s not enough bad news for you, the research also predicts the population to decrease by another 45,000 individuals by 2050.

If you’re interested, you can read the full research paper here.


“Totally Protected” status for Sunda pangolin

Here’s a little bit of a good news for all of us. In conjunction with the World Pangolin Day, Sabah’s government had approved the motion of upgrading the status of Sunda pangolin.

Previously, the pangolin carried the “Protected” status. Now, Sunda pangolin has the “Totally Protected” status, which carries a heftier punishment for those caught hunting and trafficking the animal.

If you want to read the full story, Carrybeans recently had done an article about it!


What do you think we can improve to better protect our wildlife? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


Fun fact: The Chinese community isn’t the only people that celebrates Chinese New Year–Sabah’s Dusun Tatana community in Kuala Penyu also celebrate the Lunar Festival!

Featured Image Credit: NSTP, Sabah Shark Protection Association

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