KUCHING – Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has urged delegates the 7th International Hornbill Conference to put knowledge gained into good practice to help improve hornbill conservation efforts in Sarawak and their respective countries.
He said hornbill conservation efforts was significant to Sarawak’s culture and traditions as well as its critical role in the protection of forests and wildlife.
According to Abang Johari, conservation was a challenging and daunting task to undertake, therefore, it was important that conservation efforts needed to be holistic, well oriented and strategically thought out.
“For that reason, the state government has resolved to address the main threat to the survival of many wildlife species, namely the loss of habitat.
“Towards this end the government has set a target to establish at least one million hectares of totally protected areas (TPAs) by 2020,” he said at the opening ceremony of the conference involving 200 delegates from 14 countries here today.
His speech text was read by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.
Also present were Sarawak Deputy State Secretary Datuk Jaul Samion, Thailand Hornbill Research Foundation (HRF) president Dr Woraphat Arthayukti and Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) chief executive officer Wong Ting Chung.
Abang Johari, who is also Urban Development and Natural Resources Minister, said the state had so far constituted 941,000 hectares of land and water territories (reservoir) as TPAs and was confident this target could be achieved on time.
“Having said that we should, however, not be complacent just yet, while it is important to have substantial forest cover we need to also ensure that forest conditions are ideal for the wildlife species including hornbill to proliferate,” he said.
In conjunction with the conference, SFC signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with HRF Thailand represented by Wong and Woraphat respectively to conduct studies on hornbill population distribution, fruit trees, breeding grounds, nesting behaviour and tree phrenology at the Rimba Sarawak (Research for intensified management of bio-rich areas of Sarawak) sites such as Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and Tanjung Datu National Park.
There are a total of 57 known species of hornbill in the world and eight of these species could be found in Sarawak, namely white crowned hornbill, bushy crested hornbill, wrinkled hornbill, wreathed hornbill, black hornbill, oriental pied hornbill, helmeted hornbill and rhinoceros hornbill. – BERNAMA