March 24, 2010
Leave Orang Utan Alone
ALEX CHAI, Kuching
MANY questions have been raised over the Government’s proposal to create an orang
utan sanctuary in Kuala Lumpur.
First of all, what are the views of the experts? As we all know, orang utan are
very human-like, so is it wise to move them away from their natural habitat?
I do not think that an orang utan sanctuary will create a positive impression of
the Government’s commitment to eco-tourism. Instead, it will leave a lasting impression of the lack of
understanding of nature conservation and the true meaning of eco-tourism.
True commitment will be reviving Taman Negara and pumping in more funds into
existing wildlife centres in Sabah and Sarawak to elevate their standards to an international level.
There is nothing spectacular about seeing orang utan in a man-made sanctuary in
the city of Kuala Lumpur. It makes more sense to see them roam freely in their native forests.
Besides the logging industry, the Government is under-capitalising the tourism
potential of the native forests. Especially in Sarawak, where due to poor infrastructure, economically sound
sustainable eco-tourism cannot be carried out in sufficient scale to bring about growth in revenue. True commitment
means training human capital.
The proposed orang utan sanctuary in Kuala Lumpur seems like a fake commitment, a
marketing hype just to show that something is being done but it does not address the core issue. We need a 50-year
plan, not one for just five years. Eco-tourism is about sustainability, not a quick
Eco-tourism, which stands for ecological tourism, is responsible travel to
fragile, pristine, and usually protected areas that strive to be low impact and often small scale. It’s purpose is
to educate the travellers, provide funds for conservation and directly contribute to the economic development and
political empowerment of the local communities. It is also to foster respect for different cultures and for human
Eco-tourism is held as important by those who want future generations to
experience aspects of the environment that are relatively untouched by human intervention.
Source: The Star