KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has reiterated its call for Indonesia’s help in saving the Sumatran rhinoceros in a bid to prevent the species from going extinct.
“We have only a pair left. The female rhino is sickly and presently put on 24-hour surveillance. It has lost about 50kg since July,” said state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
The two rhinos are kept at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu.
Liew said a breeding programme, which had been discussed and much talked about since the previous government, was vital for the species’ survival in Sabah.
“We would like to know the follow-up to these discussions; whether we can work together to save the rhinos,” she said after receiving a courtesy call from Indonesia’s Consul-General in Kota Kinabalu, Krishna Djelani.
Krishna said he would follow up on the matter with the relevant Indonesian authorities as there had earlier been a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between Indonesia and Malaysia.
It is believed that the MoA had touched on the Transboundary Conservation Project on Sumatran Rhinoceros.
It is also understood that the subject would be discussed among high-level officials of both countries at a bilateral meeting scheduled to be held in Malaysia next month.
On another matter, Krishna proposed a new air route between Indonesia (Manado) and Sabah (Kota Kinabalu) operated by Batik Air in addition to the existing direct flight from Jakarta to Kota Kinabalu.
“It takes only two hours to fly from Manado to Kota Kinabalu. The idea is to boost the level of tourism and enhance people-to-people ties,” he said.
Given the current direct flight from Manado to China, the Consul-General, who was accompanied by Vice-Consul Sartono Hendrarso, was looking at the possibility of a China-Manado-Kota Kinabalu route and a China-Kota Kinabalu-Manado route.
Liew, on her part, said: “I fully support the proposal which is good for both Sabahans and Indonesians in the interest of air connectivity and further tourism growth for mutual benefits.”
The matter, she said, needed to be further discussed before it is brought to the state and federal governments for consideration.
Meanwhile, consul Hendro Retno Wulan, briefed Liew on efforts to start a tourism-related vocational curriculum at Sekolah Indonesia Kota Kinabalu in Sepanggar and hoped that the state government would consider issuing a temporary pass for interns.
“It is a free three-year skill diploma training course sponsored by the Indonesian government.
“The intake starts this month. We are teaching them skills in the culinary arts,” she said.
Sekolah Indonesia has an enrolment of 900 students from kindergarten to junior high school level.