This post was originally published on January 31, 2020 and updated on July 23, 2020.
The Malaysian palm oil industry is backed by more than 100 years of responsible plantation practices on legally approved agricultural land. Its commitment to the preservation of the environment and protection of wildlife and biodiversity is evident through the work of the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF).
MPOWCF was established, with an initial RM 20 million in funding, to protect wildlife and their habitat through research and hands-on rescue, translocation and conservation. MPOWCF funds studies on the impact of the palm oil industry on wildlife, biodiversity and environmental conservation, and it seeks to provide assurances that oil palm cultivation does not negatively affect these areas.
Wildlife sanctuaries and the rescue and translocation of animals to protected land are part of the more visible work done by the MPOWCF. But just as important is the research and education that drives conservation efforts.
These are examples of MPOWCF’s work:
Study and protection of animal populations
- Orangutan research: A Sabah-based project analyzed trends in orangutan population distribution, densities and conservation threats. Key orangutan habitat and corridors outside of protected areas were identified and mapped.
- Bornean banteng research: This program used satellite tracking, remote infrared cameras and molecular analysis to monitor the Bornean banteng population. The goal was to learn more about their ecological behavior, range and dispersal patterns to help conservation efforts, as the species is one of the rarest endangered large mammals in Sabah. The program is a collaboration with the Danau Girang Field Centre, Cardiff University, Sabah Wildlife Department and the French NGO HUTAN.
- Addressing disease and illegal hunting: The Wildlife Health Genetic and Forensic Laboratory in Sabah helps identify and respond to diseases spread from wildlife to humans. It also analyzes the species and origins of confiscated illegal bushmeat, aiding efforts to combat illegal hunting and poaching.
Conferences and training
- Orangutan Conservation Colloquium (OUCC 2009): The colloquium addressed issues in orangutan conservation in Sabah, including the animal’s main survival threat, fragmented habitats. Recommendations to enhance conservation were presented to the Sabah State Government.
- Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium: A continuation of the successful OUCC, organized by MPOC, the colloquium focused on conservation efforts for endangered species in Sabah and Sarawak. Sabah’s three Species Action Plans (SAPs) for the Bornean orangutan, the Bornean elephant and the Sumatran rhinoceros were launched. The five-year SAP details conservation guidelines for each iconic species.
- Education for plantation managers: In order to create greater awareness about wildlife and conservation, a training program was created in collaboration with the NGO Wild Asia for plantation managers and staff. This program created “Biodiversity in Plantation Landscapes,” the Malaysian palm oil industry’s first dedicated reference on biodiversity and conservation. It aims to make issues and solutions easy to understand for plantation management.
Tabin Wildlife Reserve educational materials: Educational materials on conservation for Tabin Wildlife Reserve, including the book “Tabin – Sabah’s greatest wildlife sanctuary,” were published.
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