WWF reports this year's achievements

PETALING JAYA: WWF Malaysia managed to protect 900,000ha after the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) in Sabah was gazetted as a protected marine park in May.

This brought the total size of protected marine parks in Malaysia to an impressive 2.3 million hectares.

In their annual review for 2016, the nature NGO said that TMP is home to some of the elusive marine life like dugong, endangered sea turtles, river otters, estuarine crocodiles, migratory whales and many more yet to be discovered species.

"The marine park encompasses more than 50 islands and islets and will be the largest marine protected area and the first multiple-use park in Malaysia. It will be managed in collaboration with local communities to protect marine and coastal ecosystems as well as to manage the rich resources contained within it," WWF Malaysia said in its review.

In Sabah's Bukit Piton Forest Reserve (BPFR), which used to be a heavily logged forest area, WWF Malaysia has carried out a 10-year forest restoration project in collaboration with Sabah Forestry Department since 2008.

"Tangible evidence of the success of this initiative are orang utan spotted using the newly-planted trees as their food source, nesting sites and to travel from one part of the forest to another. As of December 2015, we have restored 2,099ha of degraded forest in the area and planted almost one million seedlings," it said.

The Bornean Orangutan was listed as critically endangered by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) four months ago.

According to the IUCN Red List, Bornean orang utan decreased by more than 60% between 1950 and 2010, and a further 22% decline is projected to occur between 2010 and 2025.

WWF Malaysia rangers also carry out wildlife monitoring work at Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, one of the priority sites for the Malayan Tiger.

"The rangers patrol 200 days and covered more than 1,300km on foot during the year. They have successfully deactivated 45 active wire snares, potentially saving a number of endangered wildlife species from losing their limbs or lives to snares," it said.

WWF-Malaysia continues to advocate for a nationwide turtle egg trade and consumption ban, habitat protection and intensification of enforcement to prevent poaching of turtles in their marine habitat.

In January 2016, WWF-Malaysia embarked on the year-long "My Fin My Life Campaign" to raise awareness for shark conservation and since then 35,000 consumers have pledged not to consume shark fin products, 50 companies have removed shark fin from their corporate functions and 30 hotels and restaurants have committed to stop serving shark fin soup.

The organisation has worked with the Penang state government, Sabah state government, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Sabah, the Department of Fisheries, and Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based industry on this campaign.