Pic: With its frail hands sticking out from the cage, a small edifice not even enough for it to climb nor roam. This Spider monkey is a pet being kept in a local temple in Kuantan by its curator. This small gesture, of man and beast reaching out and forming a connection reminds us that there isn't really that much separating us as we share about 95% of our genes. Hope, the only thing left, to never see another being caged and its freedom curtailed, such fate should never befall anyone or anything for that matter.
Being a marine biologist, conservation issues are always an interest of mine. Sabah in Malaysia possess one of the last un-spoilt wilderness in the country and the varied natural attractions found here are enough to keep one occupied, which after being here for 3 years I'm ashamed to say I've not really explored them all as of yet. For the forest lovers, trekking places like Danum Conservation valley, boating down the Kinabatangan or the latest attraction, a hike into the un-spoilt Meliau Basin. Divers will claim some of the best dive sites in the world are found here, Sipadan with its world renowned coral haven, Mataking, Turtle Islands, Langkayan, Layang-layang etc. Culture wise, Sabah is a mixing pot of various ethnic groups, Kadazans, murut, Bajau, etc. each with their own tradition and culture. All these ingredients make Sabah a truly unique place to visit.
Yet its sad that recent news reports state:
- Several fishermen were caught harvesting turtles off Sabah's coast with around 50 turtles killed or caught alive off the coast of several marine protected areas, enforcement officers manage to apprehend the offendors but not before they managed to carry out this slaughter.
- Asian Geographic also chronicled the live animal trade of Pangolins through Malaysia. Around 1,200 were seized at the border, ready to be trucked off to places like Vietnam and China where the shell and meat is going to be turned into traditional medicine.
- Sharks are being caught, slit of their fins and thrown back into the ocean with the misleading notion that they'll regenerate, while in reality they drown.
- Plantation opening in Sabah for oil palm recently displaced orangutans from their natural habitats and forced officers to capture them to be released in the Sepilok Sanctuary which is already crowded and hemmed in by plantations.
- Shells sold freely and without limit in the local Sunday markets for collectors (most are in the endangered species list).
- The film "Finding Nemo" though generating interest in sea life, encourages the aquarium trade whereby fishes, live corals and invertebrates are often caught by destructive means such as cyanide poisoning. I saw with my own eyes, a clown fish, wrapped in a plastic bag, fins torn and sold for RM3 (less than USD 1) whereby it looks like it'll never make it.
- Insensitivity even lurks as filmmakers of the movie "Puteri Gunung Ledang" (The Princess from Mount Ledang) stripped away hundred of years of mossy growth from Cameron Highland forests to grow of all things morning glories for the set.
Well, we could really do better right?