Wednesday, 16 May 2012

More funding needed for Sg Ingei

File photo of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) official and Project Manager for the Sg Ingei Biodiversity Study Dato' Dr Mikaail Kavanagh (L) helping Melilas locals push the 'temuai', a traditional wooden boat, along the Ingei River at low tide. Picture: BT file
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
THE team working to make Sungai Ingei a wildlife sanctuary is seeking Public-Private Partnership (PPP) support in order to increase fundings to continue research at the pristine forests in the interior of Belait.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) official and Project Manager for the Sg Ingei Biodiversity Study, Dato' DrMikaail Kavanagh said that to attain objectives to preserve and protect the flora and fauna found in the area requires solid financial support.

"We have to get the financial support for the protection, as well as community work, to start an ecotourism and also for the continuation of the research, including finding out what is in the buffer zone," Kavanagh said to The Brunei Times during a recent trip into Sg Ingei.

According to Kavanagh, the team is in talks with the Brunei Government on ways to raise funds for the sponsored two-year study, which will end this year.

"We hope there will be a PPP where corporations get together with the government (to raise funds forSg Ingei). We believe the prospects are very good," he said.

When asked if the results of the study that has been gathered so far is strong enough to support Sg Ingei in order for it to become a wildlife sanctuary, Kavanagh agreed.

"This area is extremely rich and interesting. The biological diversity here is definitely more than our best expectations," he said. "Sg Ingei has lived up to its prospects."

According to Kavanagh, the results of the study are not fully released yet as a lot of careful cross-checking and analysis have to be done.

He reaffirmed that Sg Ingei is indeed "an enormously diverse area".

"I am fairly confident, as we know there would be some new record for Brunei and maybe for Borneo as well," Kavanagh shared.

The WWF official stressed that Sg Ingei is important specifically to Brunei because of its enormous diversity and that the virgin forest is vulnerable as it is right next to the border. This makes Sg Ingei difficult to protect from poachers.

Kavanagh explained that when poachers from neighbouring countries have depleted of resources there, they will hunt out other areas and go further afield.

"I would say that it is absolutely critical that the area protection be upgraded here," he stressed.

One way to protect the forests is through honorary wildlife rangers.

Aside from being tasked with protecting Sg Ingei and its surrounding area, Kavanagh said honorary wildlife rangers will "involve the community because there is a very positive community here".

"This is their traditional land but since it is under government control now in the modern world, they therefore need modern authority," Kavanagh said.

Without authority, villagers living in Sg Ingei's surrounding areas will not be able to stop poaching activities should they encounter one.

Henceforth, a proposal to look into putting honorary wildlife rangers into Sg Ingei is currently in its finalising stage.

Kavanagh outlined that there are still more flora and fauna yet to be discovered in Sg Ingei as the team of scientists and researchers race against time to use the two-year findings to make a strong enough testament to push Sg Ingei towards becoming a wildlife sanctuary.

"At the core, some things need to be maintained as pristine as possible; it needs to be protected properly."

"There can be research from birds, mammals, spiders. Hopefully there will be a lot of other researches. For example, spiders produce one of the strongest materials known to the world. There are many other things that surprise us."

"So as far as this forest is concerned, protect the core. In the buffer zone, you have a community living there who we hope will also help protect the forest. There should be a traditional lifestyle for the community and also protection for the animals."

"You could build up ecotourism here without disturbing this very delicate core area, and it would allow people who would like to have an economic viable lifestyle here if there is a buffer zone."

Kavanagh calls for a landscape approach to see the bigger picture on the rationale of a wildlife sanctuary for Sg Ingei.

"We have to look at the whole landscape and say that we want to protect as much as we can to maintain the area of high conservation value." The Brunei Times