Conserve Land for Wildlife Habitat: Borneo Land Conservancy (BLC)
Kinabatangan Floodplain which covers the 30,000 ha Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary is considered by many to be one of the biodiversity hotspots in Borneo with a great abundance of wildlife’s including mega faunas like orangutan, proboscis monkeys, Borneo pygmy elephants and riverine crocodile among others. The 30,000 ha of Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary which was gazetted was originally proposed to be double in size at 60,000 ha but the pressure was just too great that finally only 30,000 ha was gazetted divided into ten lots which was not a contiguous piece with many gaps in between leaving it hard for elephants and other wildlife to move freely between them.
The problems began to manifest more frequently as those lands outside the sanctuary was developed and converted to palm oil plantations and electric fencing was put up forcing the elephants to encroach on these plantations land or to swim across the river on their frequent migration route searching for food. As a result, human – elephant conflict became more frequent with the local community bearing the blunt as they could not afford electric fencing. Their crops were raided leaving many of them helpless or to take up to poisoning or killing the elephants.
It was after much research and constant communication with our networks in 2016 that Borneo Eco Tours (BET) and BEST Society were able to identify a piece of land for such an initiative. The land size is 7.7 acres and is located in Sukau, just five minutes upriver from Sukau Rainforest Lodge which BET and BEST Society decided to buy solely for the purpose of conservation and later, research and education.
To prevent more lands from being taken over by the growing palm oil industry in the state, which is also threatening the ecotourism industry, it was only a matter of time that we took matters into our own hands. Together with our supporting networks, the Borneo Land Conservancy will be the first of many more land conservation initiative around Borneo.
The latest initiative of BET and BEST Society is the Borneo Land Conservancy (BLC) project that aims to conserve land for wildlife habitat in Sukau, along the floodplains of Kinabatangan. Kinabatangan is renowned for its diverse wildlife and avifauna but the habitat of these animals, which includes the part of the Borneo Big 5; the Orangutans, Proboscis Monkeys and Borneo Pygmy Elephant are being threatened by deforestation and the palm oil plantation endemic.
BEST Society had gone one step further, by establishing a research centre was on the plot of land, Sukau Ecotourism Research Centre. It’s a joint effort to ensure that ecotourism will remain a key that provides sustainable employment and financial benefit to the local communities.
The hub is open to anybody that would like to facilitate research on the impact of ecotourism activities on wildlife.
About BEST Society
BEST Society wants to be part of the solution to global change and focuses on sustainability, which encompasses the integration of three key pillars: people, planet, and profit. This requires not just a broad approach, but an approach that transcends ‘local matters’, which is why Borneo Eco Tours, Sukau Rainforest Lodge and BEST Society refers to the Sustainable Development Goals its indicators. When the basis of its efforts is contributing towards the shared global agenda of alleviating poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all, its roles become clearer.
Besides that, BEST understands that to improve socio-economic conditions and well- being of local communities, community empowerment and capacity building is crucial for their success. It reaches out to rural communities in Sabah, by implementing sustainable development initiatives to improve livelihood and quality of life, and to conserve nature for the next generation.
Some of its recent projects includes a partnership with HUTAN to set up artificial hornbill boxes for hornbill bird conservation, acquiring a 7.7-acre parcel of land for conservation named Borneo Land Conservancy as well as setting up the Sukau Ecotourism Research Centre to facilitate research in the area.