Conservation Efforts by BOH & WWF
The lower 70km to 100km of the Kinabatangan River flows through low-lying ground, forming the Kinabatangan Floodplain. It is the arguably the last forested alluvial floodplain in Asia. This area is rich in bio diversity: it is one of the two places on earth where ten primate species are found together, including the orang-utan, proboscis monkey and the Bornean gibbon. It is also home to over 250 bird, 50 mammal, 20 reptile and 1,056 plant species.
Since day one of the nature preservation programme at Kampung Bilit along the lower Kinabatangan River, BOH & WWF decided that while it is important for the organisation to remain profitable from this operation, the underlying importance is to ensure that whatever form of business is being conducted within the area, it has to be sustainable and only use resources that are renewable and should not be at the expense of the future generations.
Tree-Planting Programme (WWF)
In its effort to protect the Kinabatangan flood plain, WWF-Malaysia engages its stakeholders and partners (government agencies, oil palm companies, tour operators and the local community) to address the issues of reforestation, protection and management of the area.
A ‘Corridor of Life’ Vision is formulated towards Sustainable Development for the area, which includes:
- A forest corridor along the Kinabatangan, connecting the coastal mangrove swamps with the upland forests, where people, wildlife, nature-based tourism and local forest industries thrive and support each other.
- A floodplain that supports a thriving and diverse economy that offers opportunity and choice to local people and businesses.
- Good environmental management of the natural capital on which all partners depend upon.
- A landscape in which agriculture, people and nature conservation is united by their common source of vitality – water.
As the management of such a vast area as the Kinabatangan is a costly affair, WWF-Malaysia works with tourism operators in carrying out a pilot project called Voluntary Conservation Levy to establish a fund which would finance the cost of protecting and reforesting (in essence ‘managing’) the area.
Wildlife viewing is a big draw for tourists to Kinabatangan and the VCL is targeted for this group of nature enthusiasts. The VCL concept encourages tourists to make a voluntary contribution towards nature conservation work in that area and to promote sustainable tourism.
TREE-PLANTING AT KINABATANGAN RIVER
This newly adopted activity helps to achieve many objectives:
- promote entrepreneurship within the people of Kampung Bilit (staff and others alike)
- cultivate close working relationship between the lodge and the villagers
- provide avenue for the Lodge to use the organic waste effectively (the organic waste is decomposed and turned into fertiliser to be used for tree planting)
- lowering our food cost since the trees sold to us are 10% lower than when we purchase from outside (since no more middle person involved)
- increasing the bottom line thus higher returns for shareholders and more bonus for staff
Wildlife Conservation at Kampung Bilit
Kampung Bilit is a small village with the population of between 150 to 180 people whose livelihood depends very much on fishing and craftworks. The village consists of mainly Orang Sungai (literally translated as River People, one of Sabah’s many ethnics groups). Majority of Orang Sungai are Muslims, while the rest remain atheists. Therefore, visitors are reminded to dress modestly and not expose too much skin when being in Kampung Bilit.
Cruising along Kinabatangan River is one of the most rewarding experiences that people get when staying at Myne Resort (www.myne.com.my) in Kampung Bilit. During the cruise, tourists have the chance to observe the true beauty of fauna and flora along the Kinabatangan River; in fact, many claim that the river is the best destination to get close-up and discover the amazing wildlife and nature in Sabah.
During the night river safari, there is no need for tourists to flash their torch lights on the animals as the guide would normally have a big spotlight that shines down on the animals. Do not tease and shout at the animals as that would frighten them away.