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Anti-poaching unit to protect Bornean forests

5 September 2019

Wooden painted sign for Danau Girang Field Centre

Scientists at Cardiff University have helped develop a task force of ‘Protect Rangers’ to safeguard the wildlife in the forests of Borneo and defend animals against illegal poaching.

A total of 25 rangers have been recruited with the help of experts in the University’s Danau Girang Field Centre and will take up a position within the Sabah Forestry Departments Protect Unit.

The job of a Protect Ranger will involve patrolling, raiding and investigating poaching of Borneo’s most iconic species, including orangutans, elephants and pangolins.

An investment of over £770,000 was made by the Sime Darby Foundation to the Sabah Forestry Department, on which Cardiff University was a co-signatory, to train the special anti-poaching unit.

Orangutan populations have decreased by nearly half as a result of unsustainable resource demand and conflict with humans and over 20,000 pangolins have been illegally poached in Borneo.

Datuk Mashor Bin Mohd Jaini, Chief Conservator of Forests, said: “In early July, a two-day intensive selection course was organized in Ranau for 70 Sabahans - out of the 900 who applied for the Protect ranger positions.

“The selectees were put through written, physical and mental aptitude testing, followed by an interview, that ensured that the best people for the demanding job of a Protect Unit member.”

The training was coordinated by Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of Danau Girang Field Centre and Professor at Cardiff University, who said: “The participants were trained to confidently and safely conduct counter-poaching patrolling in a tropical forest environment and to conduct basic intelligence gathering, investigations, raids and takedowns in both the forest and urban environment by foot and vehicle.

“This course was physically and mentally demanding.”

The Project Rangers will start their operations from September 2019.

“They will boost the enforcement capacity of the State Government to reduce the number of poaching cases in Sabah,” added Datuk Mashor.

“I felt very proud of these young people who will be the guardians of our forests and wildlife in Sabah.

“It makes me very happy to have played a role in providing an opportunity for those young Sabahans to help protect Borneo’s wildlife, and it’s a fantastic boost to wildlife conservation in the State,” added Dr Benoit Goossens.

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