Category Archives: Environmental Issues

Submit your complaint to Malaysian government about Sutera Sanctuary Lodges

I have been writing about SCUBA diving in this blog for the past few months. Yeah… I am shying away from Mount Kinabalu temporarily as the issues with Sutera drags my feet away from the highest peak of Borneo. However, it does not mean that I am not writing about Kinabalu anymore. I will write about Kinabalu – almost about anything – until it is free from human greed.

I feel ashame to tell you the pretty part of Kinabalu, when in the real situation it is getting more and more difficult (and annoying) for you to get the chance to climb the majestic mountain and see it for yourself.

So, I have decided to divert this blog a bit – to scuba diving –  without forgetting the main issues on Kinabalu, in which we shall and can do something about it.

As I write this post, the number of members who joined the cause “Mount Kinabalu – belongs to NO ONE” in Facebook is increasing to 540. It was a huge achievement, although it was not me who started the cause, moreover, I hardly know them all. I would like to congratulate KaKiAyAm who started the cause, and hopefully it will be able to change Kinabalu for the good.

GOOD NEWS FOR US

I don’t know how effective Malaysian government will act to this matter, but I think it’s worth a try. Lets go to Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri & Hal Ehwal Pengguna (Ministry of Domestic Trade & Consumer Affairs) website.

They have provided an online complaints submission by the public (e-Aduan). I have used this form once before when I submitted a complaint against Microsoft monopoly of software installation last few months.

Luckily for us, they provides Bahasa Malaysia and English platform for the complaints. Here is the link:

http://e-aduan.kpdnhep.gov.my/

I have submitted my complaint. My complaint number is 00809940. You can submit yours. I just your 5 precious minutes to change the future of Mount Kinabalu.

If you don’t know what to write, you can just copy and paste this in the complaint box:

1. 500% INCREASE IN PRICE FOR CLIMBING MOUNT KINABALU IN 3 YEARS, IN WHICH ARE UNJUSTIFIED AND EXORBITANTLY HIGH.
2. POOR MAINTENANCE OF ACCOMMODATIONS FOR CLIMBERS OF KINABALU IN LABAN RATA RESTHOUSE, WHICH IS RUN BY THEM.
3. SUTERA MONOPOLIZE THIS TO REAP THE PROFITS, WITHOUT THINKING OF THE IMPACT TO SABAH STATE TOURISM INDUSTRY, IN WHICH THE ONE WHO BADLY AFFECTED ARE MALAYSIANS.

You can select “False Indication of Prices” in the Complaint Category and “Others” in Against Premise. This would be the screenshot of the complaint form. (Click to enlarge)

I have sent mine. Please send yours. And thank you very much!

Mt. Kinabalu fundraising climb for Cyclone Nargis survivors

I received an email from Patrick again this morning. He sent me one before, asking about some issues on Kinabalu climbing with his children. This time he was asking us a favor – to donate to his fund raising climb – for survivors of Cyclone Nargis which hit Burma few months back.

I am glad and thankful to God that we don’t have that kind of disaster here in Sabah. I think that it is good that I could channel that blessings to blog about those who needed help to continue their life. Maybe that’s the least that I could do.

He will be climbing Kinabalu with 3 11-years old kid on 1st of August, 2008.

Hi there friends! Hope you are keeping well 🙂

Well, 2 days till off to Malaysia and – the reason for emailing you – my climb with my kids up MOUNT KINABALU, yes!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m really looking forward to it, the kids rather less so, think its finally dawned on them it might be quite hard work, hehe…

To help with the motivation / bring some ‘higher purpose’ to it, we are asking for sponsorship in aid of the Burmese children who were affected by the floods in May, many many of whom are still at great risk of death, mainly through poisoned water due to decomposing corpses. In case you assume the situation must be sorted by now, I’ve included a link to a recent article…

So, here’s the link. I used it myself to sponsor someone, its secure and easy to use.
http://www.justgiving.com/patrickbyrd

Some of you haven’t heard from us for quite a while – whether or not you decide to respond to our request for support we do hope you will write back and let us know how’s things with you.

Many thanks,
Patrick

For Patrick and his children – Good luck on the climb!

Who else here can do something for our Mt. Kinabalu?

I received an email from our friend, Wai Yong today. This is what she wrote:

As I know, SSL will include packed lunch for all Mt. Kinabalu climbers in 2008, as compulsory. I just want to concern about the ‘litter bugs’ will throw the polystyrene boxes into Mt Kinabalu ravine or just anywhere and everywhere.

Previously, some ‘litter bug’ climbers often threw the wrapping of the chocolate, or just any drink or snack at the trail. Especially the area near all the shelters are very dirty with rubbish around now.

This is a very not environment friendly scenery. Even though, now I can’t 100% confirm how SSL going to prepare the ‘packed lunch’ for the climbers in 2008, but if they really use the polystyrene boxes for the packed lunch, I can’t imagine what will happen to Mt Kinabalu, our Malaysia heritage.

I have one friend who did call the Sabah Parks regarding this matter, but the reply that he get was the Sabah Parks authority have no power to do anything about it.

I wonder here is, if Sabah Parks can’t do anything, who else here can do something for our Mt. Kinabalu?

Us?

Mount Kinabalu from Tambuyukon

What does World Heritage title means to Kinabalu?

I received another email from Cikgu Ismail yesterday. He was asking me about the “World Heritage” title that was given by UNESCO (United Nation Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to Kinabalu Park in 2000.

What is World Heritage?

World Heritage SiteHeritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage.

What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

How did Mount Kinabalu get the title?

In January 2000, Kinabalu Park was nominated as one of the Heritage Site by UNESCO as it is a clear candidate for inscription on the World Heritage list on the basis of the following two natural criteria:

Criterion (ii): Ecological processes

  • The high species diversity of Kinabalu results from a number of factors:
    • the great altitudinal and climatic gradient from tropical forest to alpine conditions;
    • precipitous topography causing effective geographical isolation over short distances;
    • the diverse geology with many localised edaphic conditions, particularly the ultramafic substrates;
    • the frequent climate oscillations influenced by El Niño events;
    • geological history of the Malay archipelago and proximity to the much older Crocker Range.

Criterion (iv): Biodiversity and threatened species

Research on the biota of Mount Kinabalu has been extensive and has established that the park is floristically species-rich and a globally important Centre of Plant Endemism. The Park contains an estimated 5,000-6,000 vascular plant species including representatives from more than half the families of all flowering plants.

The presence of 1,000 orchid species, 78 species of Ficus, and 60 species of ferns are indicative of the botanical richness of the park. The variety of Kinabalu’s habitats includes 6 vegetation zones from lowland rainforest through to alpine scrub at 4,095m. Faunal diversity is also high with the majority of Borneo’s mammals, birds, amphibians and invertebrates (many threatened and vulnerable) known to occur in the park. It is clear that Kinabalu Park contains “the most important and significant habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity”. IUCN considers that the nominated site meets this criterion.

*****

Kinabalu has been identified by IUCN/WWF as a Centre of Plant Diversity. Despite its geological youth, it is exceptionally rich in species with elements from the Himalayas, China, Australia, Malesia and Pantropical floras. The park has between 5,000-6,000 vascular plant species, 1,000 of which are orchids.

It is particularly rich in Ficus (78 taxa), ferns (610sp) and Nepenthes (9 species of pitcher plants). Rafflesia, a rare parasitic plant is also found. The mountain flora has diverse “living fossils” such as the celery pine and the trig-oak, the evolutionary link between oaks and beeches.

So, in December 2000, World Heritage Committee Inscribes 61 New Sites on World Heritage List which includes Kinabalu Park and Mulu National Park.

Resources:

  1. United Nations Environment Program – World Conservation Monitoring Center – Kinabalu Park
  2. Kinabalu Park – UNESCO World Heritage Center

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Another Borneo Pygmy Elephant fitted with GPS collar

Pygmy elephantLAHAD DATU: WWF-Malaysia captured another Borneo pygmy elephant in Ulu Segama-Malua on Tuesday after having tracked the path of the mammal for two days.

The captured elephant, a female believed to be few months pregnant, was fitted with a collar that can send GPS signals to WWF daily via satellite, enabling researchers to keep track of its movements.

The pachyderm, thought to be about 40 years old, was captured along with her young cub by a team of WWF wildlife trackers led by WWF-Malaysia’s Asian Rhinoceros & Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) Project Manager Raymond Alfred and assisted by AREAS Programme Coordinator Amritharaj Christy Williams, who is based in Katmandu, Nepal.

The animal was sedated by the drug xylazine, fired from an air pump gun from close range, and then fitted with the GPS collar. The entire process took less than an hour.

Article syndicated from New Sabah Times

Is Sabah really tsunami free?

After the disastrous 2004 Boxing Day Asian tsunami that wiped out 300,000 in a blink of an eye, is Sabah at risk of any similar disaster in the future?

As Sabah is lapped by three different seas, French geophysicist and seismologist Jean-Paul Boeldieu thinks the potential risk may apply differently to the South China Sea, the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea.

What’s his projection? “I hope you understand why you live in a ‘kind of sanctuary’ regarding seismic and water waves,” he said in a written synopsis to his scheduled talk tonight (Thursday) at the Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary at 7.30pm, organised by the Malaysian Nature Society under President Kadir Omar. He cited the South China Sea.

But it may pay the East Coast folks to opt for serious long-term tsunami water through seismic recording. Read on.

“Don’t be scare. Be happy,” he cautioned against alarmism.

“The South China Sea is totally protected from any tsunami waves,” said Jean-Paul, Head of the Seismological Laboratory and correspondent of the international tsunami watch net, who was also a member of the 18th French Polar expedition to Antarctica from 1967 to 1969.

“It is completely closed by high grounds, there are no subduction areas, no faults in relation with subduction areas beyond its limits,” he pointed out.

“In other words, it is the most stable part of the Eurasian Plate,” he added. A very remote possibility for any tsunami in the South China Sea would rather have its origin from space, such as a big asteroid collision, than from underground. This risk is very minimal,” he explained.

In the case of the Sulu Sea, there is a “higher probability of big waves.”

“The record of historic earthquakes in the “Sulu Sea” shows the epicentres were in fact below the Bohol Sea. That sea is rather shallow water, far above the epicentres. The Bohol Sea is partly closed so waves, if any, could only escape towards the Sulu Sea as interference. Therefore, risk seems to be very limited,” he said.

The Celebes Sea, on the other hand, is somewhat different and “maybe affected by a local tsunami,” he said.

“Here, the water column is important. The earthquakes count is high, some being quite energetic,” he noted.

“The fault system is very complex, close to three plates,” he added. Hence, he opined: “Around the Sea, there are serious risk of tsunami water waves, as it happened, in a short time after any big intensity earthquake.” So, in Sabah, only Lahad Datu, the Tawau bays maybe concerned. “The reefs and low coasts of Sulawesi Island are at very serious risk,” he reckoned.

Jean-Paul said earthquakes represent successive relaxation of tensions along the plate boundaries.

“The tsunamis are transmission of movements to the water column above the fault emergence at the seabed level and their propagation,” he said.

Hence, a high magnitude quake and a thick water column above such quakes are conditions for tsunami occurrence. The tsunami water waves are propagated at the ocean surface at the speed of a jet plane or few hundred kilometres per hour.

On the other hand, the speed of the seismic waves within the earth is much higher, in excess of 40,000km per hour, he pointed out.

“This is the reason why the tsunami watch by seismic recording is helpful,” he recommended.

“The people who experience the earthquake should deduct that a tsunami wave may arise very soon,” he suggested.

“It will affect them only if they are not protected by land, shallow water, mangrove on the way of the waves. The purpose of tsunami watch is to warn people close to coasts that are far away from the epicentre as they will have time to go up to the hills if they get the information,” Jean-Paul said.

He said when the earthquake epicentres are deep, that is, more than 100km in the bowel of the earth, there is likely to be no fault on the seabed. But when the epicentres are shallow and far from the coastline and into the oceans, the generated waves can propagate across the oceans.

“The waves are guided by the deep channels. They maybe reflected by cliffs. They explode on shallow waters and high grounds. They are destructed by mangroves,” he said.

Thus underscoring the importance of maintaining and maybe restoring mangrove forests all around Sabah, particularly Sabah’s East Coast where future tsunamis are probably more likely.

In his coming talk, Jean-Paul will examine the mechanisms that cause tsunami waves and the conditions that must prevail for their occurrence.

Resource: Daily Express, 6th April 2006

Turtle poachers apprehended in Sabah, Malaysia

Dead turtles lining up at the harbour - photo from Daily ExpressFor the second time in 72 hours, marine turtles have been seized from Chinese fishing boats in Sabah’s waters carrying a cargo of 220 Green and Hawksbill turtles on 28 March 2007. The first boat was apprehended on 26 March with 72 marine turtles of the same two species and six people were arrested.

WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia applaud the success of the Sabah Marine Police and encourage them and other enforcement agencies to continue these efforts. Chris R. Shepherd, the Senior Programme Officer with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia says, “We urge the authorities to prosecute these poachers to the full extent of the law. If there is no deterrent, killing of these endangered species will continue”.

Female hawksbill turtles make about 1,000 nests in Malaysia each year Read more from the related newsfeed:

  1. WWF Website: www.panda.org
  2. WWF Malaysia Newsroom
  3. Daily Express
  4. Jail turtle poachers up to 50 years

My two cents: If we don’t do something right now, I am afraid that our next generation – our children can only know these kind of turtles in museums…

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) effect to Mount Kinabalu – It’s coming…

Do you know that El Nino drought that happened in 1997-1998 in Sabah gave a very big impact on the vegetation of Mount Kinabalu? I came across this news from New Sabah Times, mentioning about the possibility of the drought recur again in the next future.

According to the officials, during the 1998 El Nino event only 31 milimeters (1.25 inches) of rain were recorded at Park HQ between January and April, in comparison to around 850 milimeters (33 inches) during normal year. El Nino events affected the mountain in 1973, 1983, 1992 and 1998.

During this time, periods of small scale extinction have occurred in cases where plants have been limited to restricted areas, particularly after the events. Some studies have recorded about 22% local extinction within the ferns on Kinabalu within 10 years and observations after the 1998 El Nino drought suggest that as many as 50% of the epiphytes were killed off on certain parts of the mountain.

On the other hand many animals can move away from adverse conditions and endemism is much less, at least among the larger animals. Nevertheless some groups, particularly among the insects, have developed a remarkable degree of diversity.

During the drought, climbing Mount Kinabalu will be more difficult – in another way. Although the climb will be easy because of the dryness, however, there will be limited supply of mountain water in the tank for climber along the trail. If even there is water for drinks, it is not advisable to drink it directly (as we do usually). Because of the limited water, the microorganism inside the water is more concentrated. It is much safer to bring your own water supply, but it will make your luggage heavy.

The problem with this drought will be two-fold, as your body needs more water to overcome the heat and dryness.

More info on the El Nino drought from Wikipedia.

At this moment, open your eyes and your ears for the latest news on El Nino…