A Kg Melilas local, known as 'Abdul Rahman, crosses the Ingei river with a 'tamuai' to pick a group comprising Standard Chartered Bank Brunei (SCB) staff and members of the media who are hiking towards the Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey base camp in Ulu Belait on October 29. Picture: BT/Rasidah Bakar
Ripas Hospital Paramedic HjRoslanHjMustapha prays at a designated area at the SgIngei Faunal Biodiversity Survey base camp. The survey is a Heart of Borneo (HoB) project at SgIngei inUluBelait. Picture: BT/RasidahBakar
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
SgIngei Faunal Biodiversity Survey
LOCALS in Sukang and Melilas have reported activities of poaching at SgIngei, where the two-year SgIngei Faunal Biodiversity Survey, a Heart of Borneo (HoB) project is being conducted, said its survey leader during a trip to its base camp over the weekend.
The poaching activities, alleged to have been executed by those hailing from Belait town, took place two weeks before the survey team, which comprised the survey leader, Dr Joseph Charles and Project Administrator of the SgIngei Faunal Biodiversity Survey, Dr Ang Bee Biaw, returned to their base camp on October 28. The survey team was informed of the activities by members of the local community in Sukang and Melilas.
Dr Ang said, "The Melilas and Sukang people really want to protect this place (SgIngei) and the (surrounding) areas."
"The locals catch one or two deer for personal consumption, but when other people actually come into their kampung and surroundings and poach a huge number, they get affected," she said. "We do get cooperation from the Melilas and Sukang people who tell us what is happening. We are really grateful for that. We do not want to mention names because we do not want them to be targeted."
The project administrator said this in an interview with The Brunei Times, during a three-day trip beginning October 28 to SgIngei base camp with senior personnel of Standard Chartered Bank Brunei (SCB), which included SCB Chief Executive Officer Lai Pei-Si, as well as staff of state broadcaster RadioTelevisyen Brunei (RTB).
Dr Charles, who represented Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) said, with the poaching activities going on at SgIngei, the release of the survey findings next year is dependent on enforcement.
He said, "Some of the results of SgIngei are sensitive and there is a need for enforcement because poaching is SgIngei's biggest problem."
"Enforcement must be put in place, before any findings can be released. Anywhere else in Brunei, whenever such results or findings were released, everything is gone," he said. The survey leader said "one of the reasons we did not release the results this year, are because the results are not ready and the poaching is going on".
"Whatever we said, poachers will know (what is here) and they will come for it," he added.
"When you drive into Melilas by car, there are poachers' cars parked and (there are) poachers' camps along the Belait river. This is the first time that we have seen poacher's camp in Melilas," he said. Poachers came in four-wheel drive vehicles to Melilas and "they have taken so much". "They won't stop or listen," he added.
"We have board signs that said 'Heart of Borneo and Universiti Brunei Darussalam research project no entry', but nobody cares. When we go back, it is our duty to inform the departments. We hope that there will be enforcement," said Dr Charles.
He added that the Forestry Department, under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources and Museums Department, under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports have been providing them with tremendous assistance.
Poaching is not only done by outsiders but the locals as well, he said. "We are very sad that our local people are poaching. They are taking everything. Whatever they catch they just take, dead or alive. They are making money out of it. We are going to tell the ministry and police about it," he added.
The arrival of the survey team members with SCB staff and the media at the base camp was welcomed by former Brunei Museum curator SamhanNyawa, the survey's field coordinator and Angus who is the survey's chief guide as well as several Melilas locals who are also boatmen-cum-guides for the project.
SCB provided the funding for the two-year survey, from a US$500,000 ($700,000) prize donation from the Race for a Living Planet Environment Challenge, which Brunei won last year for its HoB initiative.