This post was originally published on February 6, 2020 and updated on August 6, 2020.

It’s no secret that the palm oil industry is an important part of the economy in Malaysia. But what you might not know is that the country is proving to the world that it’s possible to responsibly produce sustainable palm oil. Through the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF), the palm oil industry and the Malaysian government have come together to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and protection of wildlife and biodiversity.  


With an initial RM 20 million in funding, the MPOWCF collaborates with academics, government agencies and NGOs to provide concrete assurances that oil palm cultivation does not cause deforestation or loss of wildlife. Animal studies, conferences, training and publications are an important part of MPOWCF’s work, but their on-the-ground efforts may be most exciting. 


Already, The Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU), whose highly trained rangers help distressed animals, has rescued or translocated more than 500 animals, including: 

  • 266 Bornean elephants 
  • 52 Bornean orangutans 
  • 32 proboscis monkeys 
  • 62 estuarine crocodiles 
  • 24 Malayan sun bears 

Here’s a look at other exciting MPOWCF work to help wildlife throughout Malaysia:  

 The rescue and translocation of orangutans: Part of Sabah’s orangutan population live outside protected forest. Some of these forest patches are isolated and orangutan living in such areas may have reduced genetic viability in the long term. MPOWCF, in collaboration with Sabah Wildlife Department and WRU, has initiated a rescue and translocation program for this population. In addition, a selection of these animals are tagged with electronic collars to study their habits. The rescued animals are provided proper shelter and medical care until relocation to a permanent forest reserve or wildlife sanctuary. 

The Jungle Patrol unit was established with the Sabah Forestry Department in 2007 to protect the wildlife in the Tangkulap-Pinangah Forest Reserve in Sabah. The unit’s activities conserve wildlife and deter poaching. 

The Orangutan Conservation Program in Sarawak undertakes orangutan conservation efforts in protected areas such as the Ulu Sebuyau National Park and the Sedilu National Park. 

The Bornean Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary will care for the unique Bornean pygmy elephants and create a harmonious environment for their long-term survival. The sanctuary will also provide a window for the public to view and better appreciate the pygmy elephants. 

The New Forest (Malua Wildlife Habitat Conservation Bank) Wildlife Conservation Project constructed an orangutan bridge across the Malua River. It also establishes wildlife conservation agreements with oil palm plantations and researches the impact of different rehabilitation treatment on orangutans and bantengs. 

Mitigating human-elephant conflicts is a priority. MPOWCF works with partners to find solutions, including electric fencing. 

The Tiger Conservation Program with PERHILITAN funded two tiger cataract operations and supports other efforts to meet the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan’s goals. 

The Sunda Clouded Leopard Action Plan studied demography, behavior and landscape ecology that helped form the conservation plan for Sunda clouded leopards. 

One Million Forest Tree Plantings is part of the ‘Love MY Palm Oil’ campaign, in collaboration with the Sabah Forestry Department. For phase 1, 2,500 hectares of degraded forest in Lower Kawag, Sabah, have been identified as part of the 10-year program. 

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