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Palm oil companies unite in Malua wildlife conservation

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 6 — Four palm oil companies today made a pact to protect the Malua wildife in Sabah.

IOI Corporation Bhd, TH Group, Kwantas Corporation Bhd and the Selangor Agriculture Development Corporation have partnered Malua BioBank, a project managed by New Forests Asia that covers 34,000 hectares of lowland rainforest.

It is aimed at improving the protection of threatened wildlife within the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative.

The signing of the agreement during the opening of the International Conference of the HoB initiative here, was witnessed by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai, who represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

Also present was Sabah Forestry Director Datuk Sam Mannan, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Tun Jeanne Abdullah, who is also Chairwoman of Lanskap Malaysia.

The four companies with Malua BioBank and the state government will be pioneering a new approach to protect the wildlife from illegal hunting in Sabah which remains a significant threat in the state.

The Malua Wildlife Conservation Agreement is the first step in implementing the findings of a study funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOB) that suggested the need for a cooperative effort to prevent illegal hunting and poaching occurring in the Malua forest reserve.

New Forests Asia Director, Darius Sarshar said the partnership would be focusing on improving boundary security within the plantations, recruiting and training oil palm workers as honorary wildlife wardens, managing human-wildlife conflicts and improving environmental awareness of workers and their children living in the oil palm estates.

“By working in partnership with the plantation companies on our northern boundary, we can help prevent access to the reserve for illegal hunters.

 “Combined with the work of our protection unit, who staff the key access points, we should be able to totally eliminate all hunting pressure on this invaluable natural area,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sam said the agreement was a positive step and demonstrated how the palm oil industry could play its part by working with partners to better protect Sabah’s globally significant biodiversity. — Bernama

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