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. Malaysian State To Log Orangutan Habitats

WWF-Malaysia has said the forests are one of two places in the world where endangered orangutans (pictured), Bornean Pygmy elephants and the critically endangered Sumatran rhino co-exist.
by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Jul 17, 2006
Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah, home to endangered orangutans and other species, will see fresh logging in forest reserves that will imperil countless plants and animals, a report and conservationists said Sunday.

The chief minister of Sabah, Musa Aman, in March said large-scale logging would cease by the end of 2007 in the Malua and Ulu Segama forest reserves, earning plaudits from conservationists including WWF-Malaysia.

But the Star daily, quoting unnamed Sabah officials, said the state-owned Yayasan Sabah group, which has palmoil plantation and forestry interests, had contracted companies for new logging operations to start in a month or two.

"Any logging activity is bound to impact the flora and fauna," an official was quoted as saying.

A spokesperson for the Sabah chief minister would not comment on the report.

The forests cover a total area of 236,825 hectares (584,957 acres), three times the size of Singapore, and the logging will affect wildlife including sun bears, gibbons and wild buffalo, said the newspaper.

It said a 2003 state report had included Malua and Ulu Segama in a list of forest reserves seen as the last strongholds for about 5,000 orangutans in Borneo island where Sabah is located.

WWF-Malaysia has said the forests are one of two places in the world where endangered orangutans, Bornean Pygmy elephants and the critically endangered Sumatran rhino co-exist.

The organisation said Sunday it shared the concerns in the report about the endangered plants and wildlife in the forest reserves.

The Sabah government's March announcement "was intended to secure the habitats for orangutan, elephant, rhinoceros and banteng (a type of ox) in these forests," said the chief technical officer for WWF-Malaysia's Borneo program, Rahimatsah Amat.

"If logging activities in these two forest reserves are to be conducted without proper planning and are unsustainable, the biodiversity and ecosystem contained would be under threat," he warned in a statement.

Rahimatsah called on companies with logging approvals to strictly follow conditions imposed by government agencies to ensure sustainable practices.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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