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Sunday, June 6, 2010

10 square kilometers of Sabah has more flora and fauna than North America and Europe combined

Wildlife studies made by the National Geographic revealed that 10
square kilometers of Sabah has more flora and fauna than North America
and Europe combined. The state also belongs to the Coral Triangle,
comprised mostly of Southeast Asian nations, which is the center to
three-quarters of the world's marine biodiversity.

The above is extracted from:

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/260181/sabah-world-s-top-ecotourism-spot

Is it really true?

Sabah, Malaysia—The Malaysian state of Sabah has further bolstered its
image as the world's eco-tourism haven with the recent discovery of
new wildlife species and its increased tourist arrivals.

The discovery, made by the Heart of Borneo project of the World
Wildlife Fund for Nature, found 123 new exotic species, 67 plants, 29
invertebrates, 17 fish, five frogs, three snakes, two lizards, and a
brand new species of bird.

Most of these animals are found in Sabah, which occupies the northern
part of Borneo, the world's third biggest island.

Incepted in 2007, the project aims to conserve the rainforests of
Borneo Island, which scientific estimates place at 130 million years
old, the oldest in the world, and is home to ten species of primates,
more than 350 birds, 150 reptiles and amphibians, 10,000 endemic
plants, and 10% of the world's known orchid species.

The Heart of Borneo project hopes to conserve 220,000 square
kilometers of rainforest, described by noted evolution scientist
Charles Darwin as "one great luxuriant hothouse made by nature for
herself."

The undertaking is supported by the governments of Malaysia,
Indonesia, and Brunei which share Borneo.

Sabah boasts of 70,097 hectares of wildlife, bird and marine
sanctuaries, 909,401 hectares of forest reserves, and 265,749 hectares
of parks, including coral reefs, which are well managed by the state
government agencies.

According to Hector Ceballos-Lascurain, ecotourism consultant to the
United Nations, the new findings will further strengthen Sabah's
position as a prime ecotourism destination.

Wildlife studies made by the National Geographic revealed that 10
square kilometers of Sabah has more flora and fauna than North America
and Europe combined. The state also belongs to the Coral Triangle,
comprised mostly of Southeast Asian nations, which is the center to
three-quarters of the world's marine biodiversity.

On the tourism front, the Malaysian state was ranked as one of
Southeast Asia's top 10 tourist spots in 2009, with 5.4 million
tourist arrivals, and took second spot in Global Traveler Tested
Awards' list of best travel destinations.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah's capital city, is host to the 75,370-hectare Mt.
Kinabalu Park, home of Southeast Asia's tallest peak and a Unesco
World Heritage Site, as well as the marine parks of Tunku Adbul Rahman
and Pulau Tiga.

Meanwhile, the eastern city of Sandakan has been dubbed Sabah's nature
city because of its nature-oriented attractions such as the Sepilok
Urang Utan Rehabilitation Center, the Rainforest Discovery Center,
Gomantong Cave, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and the Maliau Basin and Danum
Conservation Areas.

Also in the city is the Turtle Islands Park, one of the world's most
important nesting areas of sea turtles because of the massive
conservation efforts by the Sabah Wildlife Department. Composed of
three small islands, it is situated near the waters of the southern
Philippine province of Tawi-Tawi, where the Turtle Islands Heritage
Protected Area (TIHPA) was formed in 1997, the world's only trans-
frontier protected area for sea turtles.

Sources at the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) say that the TIHPA has
been inactive for the past seven years, and they are looking forward
to reactivating it with their Philippine counterparts.

Sandakan's iconic tourist spot is the 540-kilometer long Kinabatangan
River in Sukau district which has the largest concentration of
wildlife in all of Malaysia. A favorite site for wildlife watching and
photography, it is habitat to tropical animals such as hornbills,
various bird species, proboscis monkeys, and the Bornean pygmy
elephant, the world's smallest elephant species.

Sandakan will also host the second International Bird Festival in
October which will gather bird watchers and conservationists from all
over Asia to determine collaborative efforts to conserve the remaining
endemic species in the region.

Cognizant of its biodiversity, the SWD recently set up the Wildlife
Rescue Unit to undertake wildlife rescue and translocation operations
throughout the state. The first of its kind in the country, it will
also carry out enforcement, monitoring, and liaison with the
stakeholders such as WWF Malaysia and the plantation sector.