Monday, 9 January 2012

Sg Ingei team works to attain goals

Project Administrator of Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey, Dr Ang Bee Biaw (R) is showing the SCB personnel on how they capture small mammals for records for the faunal biodiversity survey during their expedition to Sg Ingei in October last year. Picture: BT/Rasidah Bakar

Sunday, January 8, 2012

THE Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity team said that they wold continue their efforts to attain their objectives to preserve and protect the flora and fauna found in the area.

In an interview, Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey's leader, Dr Joseph Charles and the survey's Project Administrator Dr Ang Bee Biaw spoke of the team's three future plans for Sg Ingei.

First and foremost is to protect Sg Ingei and its biodiversity by turning it into a wildlife sanctuary.

The scientists are vying to convince the Brunei government to convert the 18,000 hectares of protected forests of remote Sungai Ingei into a wildlife sanctuary, where they want the protection to focus in the "core" area, where the team are working on the survey.

Secondly, they wisi to increase the survey efforts all the way from Kg Melilas to Sg Ingei as an extension zone.

Dr Charles said that the integrity of Sg Ingei depends on the integrity of this area because animals do go out. "Animals don't know any boundaries, wherever there is food, they will go out," he said.

"We have got evidence of endangered species breeding outside Melilas and in Sg Ingei. This whole area outside Sg Ingei, we are trying to make that area as buffer zone for Sg Ingei. Once there is a buffer zone, then we can zone it for multipurpose for ecotourism for local people to sell their handicraft, an area for ecotourism and recreation where you charge people to see and showcase the locals' skills and also for public education."

He added: "If there are any sensitive findings (according to our data), people will not be allowed to go to Sg Ingei, so it will be left alone. You will not be able to see the animals anyway, because they only come out at night. You have the same beautiful trees and forests outside (in the buffer zone)."

Dr Charles added, "When you look at the wildlife sanctuary for the future, the only way it can stay as a good a sanctuary is to have a good buffer zone."

Dr Ang said that the ecological dynamics of buffer zone and protected zone is very closely integrated.

"We are going to make extension zone, study it, survey it that data will help the ministry (MIPR) protects that place," she said.

She also mentioned of the team's third objective, which is to look for fundings (for enforcement) by setting up honorary rangers.

"This means we will get our people, Angus (the surveys chief guide) and field coordinator Samhan Nyawa, to identify potential rangers who can help us to check whether people are going in (Sg Ingei). Pehin Hj Yahya (Minister of Industry and Primary Resources) is very keen on that idea, and we are hoping once we get the fundings, we will talk with him in more details on how the government can give us permission to carry out all these activities," she said.

"We cannot wait for reinforcement to come, we have to be proactive and do something for Sg Ingei. Because my fear is when things happen, Sg Ingei is already gone."

"We want people in Kg Melilas and all the stakeholders to feel that Sg Ingei project is their project. It is only when you feel that it is your project that you have a sense of belonging and you will protect it," she added.

She said they had included them (the residents) in their survey.

"Acting Penghulu of Kg Melilas, Pehin Datu Pekerma Dewa Hj Muhd Ali Abdullah Itam is very supportive so we are lucky in that sense. This is more like a community project rather than a government, scientists or ministry project," said Dr Ang.

"That is why when we finished phase two this year, before we went back, Pehin Datu Hj Ali told us 'Just because you finish the Sg Ingei project, please do not abandon us and go away,"' she added.

Dr Ang said she promised the acting penghulu that the team would try their best to help Sg Ingei and Kg Melilas as much as they could. "This is why we are pushing the ministry to put Sg Ingei as a sanctuary. At the end of the day, what do we gain? We do not gain anything, we just want to protect Sg Ingei so that the Melilas people will feel that the government is protecting their area," she said.

She went on to say "Because these native people, as far as I can understand from their minds, this is their land, their native right, they don't want people to come in and destroy their land. They themselves do not destroy their land.".

Dr Charles said if the locals did hunt, they would hunt just a deer, while the others (outsiders), come in lorry loads. They are depriving the locals of their onetime hunt. And the locals do not hunt all the time.

"You see the new road that was open for Melilas, this road is used as a highway for local poachers. What was meant as a good thing for Melilas for transport has now become a highway for these poachers," he said.

He shared that their concern now is for local stakeholders and the whole Brunei to have a sense of belonging, that Sg Ingei is special to them.

Asked whether their plan to release the findings next year is still on track, Dr Ang said they were hopeful that they would be able to do so.

"We are ready to release the results, but is Brunei ready to receive them? We do not want our results to be the reason why poaching starts in Sg Ingei because that will defeat our purpose," she added.

In voicing similar sentiment, Dr Charles said, "The sad part is we release some of our results and the news got out, and somebody had gone in Sg Ingei and started poaching around the (base) camp."The Brunei Times

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