Sarawak will have another wildlife sanctuary, the second in the state to meet the needs of wildlife rehabilitation.
The 'Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary' rehabilitation centre in Sibuti, Miri will house all the protected and endangered species of animals rescued in the northern part of the state.
Sarawak Forestry Corporation CEO Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said all the animals rescued in the state were being sent directly to the Matang Wildlife Centre in Kuching.
“Imagine having to send animals rescued in Miri all the way to Kuching, which is over 1,000 km away.
"Apart from the long journey that is stressful to animals, it also costs a lot, so building this centre in Sibuti is a necessity," he told Bernama.
Zolkipli said with the new sanctuary, the care of the animals would be divided into two parts - from Bintulu to Miri, and the other part covering Kuching to Sibu.
He said the construction of the wildlife centre was approved under the 11th Malaysia Plan with an allocation of RM2 million.
“Apart from Miri, we also applied for the building of rehabilitation centres in Sibu and Lawas under the 11th Malaysia Plan, but the government only approved for Miri,” he said.
He said the addition was necessary because the Matang Wildlife Centre, which has been operating since 1996, does not have enough space to house all the wildlife in need of rehabilitation.
"The centre in Matang also needs to be repaired and upgraded," he said.
He said there was one wildlife rehabilitation facility in Sarawak just for the Orangutan.
The Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, established in 1972, functioned as an orangutan conservation centre for research, environmental learning and eco-tourism.
"For now, rescued Orangutans are placed in Matang Wildlife Centre. Once the animals show semi-wild and self-sufficient qualities, they will be transferred to Semenggoh," he said.
He did not rule out the possibility that these centres could serve as eco-tourism sites and sources of income to cover their maintenance costs, but stressed they are not zoos.
"The centre is a conservation area that involves quarantine, training and release of animals," he said.