| James Kon |
WITH its pristine forest unaffected by human interference, Brunei is in a strong position to attract the increased research collaboration from around the world in the field of wildlife population density as well the abundance and genetic make-up of the population.
This was yesterday pointed out by Louise Fletcher, a British pangolin conservation expert who is currently in Brunei to share her knowledge and experience on pangolin conservation in hope of creating a united front in saving these species from extinction.
During the Pangolin Conservation workshop held at the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Louise discussed overcoming limitations and developing rescue, rehabilitation and release protocols.
The workshop saw the attendance of representatives from the Wildlife Division, Forestry Department, Heart of Borneo, Brunei Tourism, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Brunei Nature Society, 1stopbrunei Wildlife, Panaga Natural History, BruWild, Green Brunei and Tasek Merimbun Heritage Park Rangers.
Acting British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam Ben Boddy in his speech said, “The jungle as well as flora and fauna of Brunei are a unique selling point. People from around the world would travel to come and see it, and this would lead to tourism and jobs in the industry.
“The pangolin is a beautiful animal and people would want to see it. If Brunei can set itself as a center of excellence and a leader in conservation (particularly pangolins), this will draw the attention of the world to Brunei.
“As Brunei looks to diversify its economy and increase the green job and jobs that are linked to protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity, the pangolin is one part of a bigger picture. The added benefit is that these tourists would also want to tour the mosques in Brunei and the museum in Bandar,” the acting British high commissioner added.
Meanwhile, Louise highlighted, “The pangolin faces a real threat of extinction. Sharing knowledge and raising awareness in countries where pangolins live is vital to saving these species. Brunei remains one of the last strongholds for the Sunda pangolin and by sharing knowledge and experience I wish to support the development of strategies to ensure that Brunei’s armoured treasure is not lost.”
Painting a picture on threat of pangolin globally, she explained that over one million pangolins are believed to have been snatched from the wild over the past decade. This fascinating and beautiful creature is the only scaly mammal being eaten into extinction.
According to the latest update of The IUCNRed List of Threatened Species, all eight species of pangolins are now threatened with extinction – the Chinese and Sunda pangolins are now classified as ‘critically endangered.’
Organisations like IUCN SSC Pangolin Specialist Group and United for Wildlife, founded by The Royal Foundation, are raising awareness around the issue by getting individuals to join their movement and reduce the demand for pangolins, and thus increase their chances of survival.
Louise is passionate about natural environment conservation, enthusiastic about educating the young and a strong advocate for collaboration on both the national and international level.
She has just completed a contract working as a Field Research Advisor for the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Programme (CPCP) based in Vietnam, where she coordinated and conducted the post release monitoring (through radio tracking) of released and rehabilitated trade confiscated Sunda pangolins.
Wildlife conservation and ending the illegal wildlife trade is also of importance to the United Kingdom, which is reflected in the efforts by the Foreign Secretary hosting the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade in February last year, to the creation of the United for Wildlife by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.