KOTA KINABALU: A Britain-based non-governmental organisation – Orangutan Appeal UK – has donated RM1mil to the Sabah Wildlife Department for the purchase of three rescue vehicles among other things.
Its founder Susan Sheward said that the move was part of an ongoing effort to help the state protect the endangered species.
“We have been involved in various programmes with Sabah, and for this particular allocation, we have taken about a year to collect the funds from the UK,” she said after presenting a mock cheque to Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafee Apdal at his office here Thursday.
Sheward said she hoped to come back to Sabah in February next year to witness the handing over of the vehicles.
She said the organisation was concerned about the wildlife here in general, and not just the orang utan, and would like to help out more.
“We will work closely with the Sabah government and wildlife department in this sense,” she said.
Sheward said they were willing to help upon seeing how persistent and serious the state government was in protecting wildlife.
She said the state government’s latest policy to ban log export was a huge step in protecting the orang utan and other wildlife in Sabah.
She said Orangutan Appeal UK had spent over RM11.5mil to fund various projects, including the refurbishment of the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, over the past 18 years.
She said she would also be meeting with Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew to invite her to a programme next week.
“We, together with the Sabah Wildlife Department, will be releasing an adult male orang utan into Tabin forest reserve, and we would like to have her join us,” Sheward said.
Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said the orang utan named Tiger, who had been in Sepilok the past 17 years, was ready to go back into the wild.
“He needs more space and we know he will be able to survive well out there. In fact, he has been quite independent even when he was under Sepilok’s care,” he said.