Misquoted in The Star Newspaper
Ms Hillary Chew is a respected environmental campaigner for the Star and should not write words as though they were from my statements. I never said that oil palm plantations are good habitats for orang utans. Additionally, I have never seen statements by the oil palm industry insisting that the oil palm plantations have no less biological diversity than the natural forests. These are Ms Chew’s own words.
Those attending the recent orang utan colloquium are free to report in any way they like. In my view, the most important finding is the report by Dr Acrenaz that the orang utans do indeed feed on the loose fruits of the oil palm. Previously, the other orang utan “experts” insisted that orang utans do not eat the oil palm fruits.
The second finding is the observation that the orang utans are attracted to revisit or transit the fragmented forests nearby the oil palm plantations. Why is it that they do not always stay in the pristine permanent forest reserves which cover almost 50 % of total Sabah land area. Maybe the pristine forest has food easily available only during fruit seasons. The oil palm plantations have fruits all year round. Being clever animals, the orang utans adapt even to living in mangrove forests just to be near the oil palm plantations.
The meeting agreed that oil palm fruits alone would not provide a balanced diet for the long term survival of the orang utans. That is why the resolution of the colloquium was to establish forest corridors to connect the fragmented forests with the main forest reserve to facilitate the movements of the orang utans back to the main pristine forest which is supposed to be their favourite habitat.
What MPOC likes to do is to continue funding orang utan studies to enhance the survival potential of these protected animals. In addition, we are trying to help implement the establishment of the forest corridors as rightly pointed out by Ms Chew. MPOC is the custodian of the Palm Oil Wild Life Conservation Fund, and would match contributions made on approved projects on conservation such as creation of the forest corridors based on availability of the fund.