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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 fix.

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 rights.

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

 

 

  
 
 
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