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Official opening of the Wildlife Health Genetic and Forensic Laboratory

19 December 2013

Monday 9th December 2013 marked a momentous day with the official opening of Sabah's first Bio-security 2 (BSL2) Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic laboratory (WHGFL) in Lok Kawi, Sabah. The setting up of this lab is a joint initiative between Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), EcoHealth Alliance (EHA) and Cardiff University's Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC). The WHGFL opening was officiated by US Ambassador to Malaysia HE Ambassador Joseph Yun.

Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, Director of Sabah Wildlife Department commented "This is indeed a proud day for Sabah Wildlife Department as it has always been our goal to set up a Laboratory to not only look into wildlife health and genetic research but also to assist our Wildlife Enforcement Division in analyzing the confiscated illegal bushmeat to determine species and origin, using genetic tools". "Capacity building within my department has also been enhanced by the setting up of a new unit, the Wildlife Health Unit in collaboration with EHA and DGFC, which is part of SWD's Wildlife Rescue Unit. While the WRU conducts wildlife rescue and translocation activities, the WHU will be responsible for leading the physical and diagnostic evaluation of rescued and relocated wildlife across the state as well as conducting sampling trips to trap and sample free ranging wildlife and assess wildlife in protected and unprotected areas," added Ambu.

Director of Danau Girang Field Centre, Dr Benoit Goossens said "It is a great honour to be part of this historic moment, after two years of hard work with Dr Sen Nathan from SWD and Mr Tom Hughes from EHA, my two colleagues with whom we have shared sweat, tears and joy! Thanks to EHA support and the USAID Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) Program we have been able to set up this incredible tool which will allow us to carry out wildlife health work that will in return benefit conservation and land use planning for a better management of Sabah landscape, both agricultural and forest," added Goossens.

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