Yayasan Sime Darby supports Malaysian Nature Society’s hornbill conservation efforts

GRIK, 30 August 2013 – Unsustainable economic development exacerbated by forest clearance continues to be a growing threat to the biodiversity that exists at Belum-Temengor.

Apart from land-dwelling animals, the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex (BTFC) is also home to all 10 hornbill species that occur in Malaysia, namely the White-crowned, Bushy-crested, Wrinkled, Wreathed, Plain-pouched, Black, Oriental Pied, Rhinoceros, Great and Helmeted Hornbills, making the BTFC an Important Bird Area (IBA) recognised by BirdLife International and its Partner, the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

Despite the recognition, only parts of BTFC namely the Royal Belum State Park (117,500ha, gazetted as a State Park in 2007) and Amanjaya Forest Reserve (19,000ha, gazetted in 2013) while the rest remain mostly as production forest. This poses a serious survival problem for the majestic hornbills as seven out of the 10 are categorised as "Vulnerable" and/or "Near-Threatened" according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

In 2012, Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) committed RM1.22 million in support of the MNS Hornbill Conservation Project at the BTFC, a project which was initiated by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) in 2004 as a long-term action plan to conserve and increase awareness on the globally-threatened and near-threatened hornbills of BTFC.

The project is divided into three key areas which cover surveys and monitoring activities at BTFC to improve knowledge and understanding of the iconic hornbills' ecology and conservation needs; capacity building among the local Orang Asli communities and key government officials with hornbill conservation skills; and carrying out Communications, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA) programmes for the public to create and improve awareness, concern and support for the hornbills and their habitats in Malaysia.

YSD Governing Council member Caroline Christine Russell said the preservation of biodiversity is important as it provides basic ecological services that everyone takes for granted every day.

“Every living organism has an important role to play in the ecosystem. For example, hornbills play a role in long range seed dispersal and pest control. When habitats are destroyed and become fragmented, this affects the natural ecological processes to which these species contribute to,” she said.

“As a foundation that is passionate about the conservation of the environment and protection of ecosystems, we want to ensure that we are able to use our natural resources in a sustainable way that will not affect huge changes in the functions of the ecosystem and the extinction of many species.”

“Hornbills are like the ‘large mammals’ of the bird world. It is one of the most iconic birds of our tropical rainforests. Not many sites can boast having 10 hornbill species in one site, perhaps only three sites in the world holds that distinction. BTFC is one of these sites hence it is very crucial that we keep this habitat as intact as possible. MNS welcomes the recent gazettement of the Amanjaya Forest Reserve as it further strengthens the integrity of this forest complex. We must continue to improve the conservation of BTFC, possibly the hornbill capital of the world,” says Mohamed Shah Redza, Executive Director of MNS.

The gazettement of the Amanjaya Forest Reserve on May 9 was in part, linked to MNS' hornbill conservation efforts in the BTFC. The 18,866ha stretch of forest along the Grik-Jeli Highway connects the Royal Belum State Park and Temengor Forest Reserve. The move has been lauded as it will help reduce fragmentation between forest complexes within the Central Forest Spine (CFS), which forms the backbone of the Malaysian peninsular. MNS has been championing the preservation of the BTFC since 1993.

In addition to learning about the movement, nesting and feeding habits of hornbills, which are still considered to be at the early stages in Malaysia, MNS has also established a Nest Reward Scheme as part of its activities to engage the Orang Asli communities in BTFC to locate and monitor hornbill nesting sites.

A recent discovery of two new nesting records namely the Black and White-crowned Hornbills illustrates the early success of this scheme. Both discoveries are a first for BTFC. It is also the 4th and 2nd nesting records for the Black and White-crowned Hornbills respectively after over 20 years.

In Peninsular Malaysia, all 10 hornbill species have been categorised as “Totally Protected” by the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, where the wild animal or bird shall not be shot, killed or taken or be held in possession by any person.

MNS' hornbill conservation project is one of YSD’s many programmes under its Environment pillar. Other projects include the Restoration and Protection of Orang Utan Habitats in the Northern UluSegama Forest Reserve, Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), Conservation of the Proboscis Monkey in Sabah, the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE), UKM-YSD Chair for Sustainable Development – Zero Waste Technology for the Palm Oil Industry, UKM-YSD Chair for Climate Change and the Borneo Rhinoceros Sanctuary.

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Last Updated:
04 Dec 2018
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