Age of Awareness
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Age of Awareness

Merdeka (Independence) for Nature Too?

Our freedom as a nation should also belong to our wildlife and forests, which have done much for this country.

Wild Sumatran rhinos have become extinct in Malaysia. Puntung, one of the last surviving rhinos in captivity in Sabah, is dying from her cancerous swelling. Photo: File pic.
Don’t orangutans also deserve to be “Merdeka,” or free, in their forest homes? Photo: AP

Elephants, gaurs, pangolins, clouded leopards, and tigers are now under severe threat. Poaching, rampant loss of habitat, and the rapid expansion of plantations have contributed much to their demise and continue to do so.

A reef shark killed in 2016 by a fishing net inside the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park off Kota Kinabalu. More enforcement of marine park rules is needed. Photo: File pic.
The banteng (wild cattle) has disappeared from Peninsular Malaysia and is endangered in Borneo. Photo: Sen Nathan

What are we accumulating human wealth for, when such actions mean we will lose the natural resilience that forests and biodiversity can provide?

The Bornean clouded leopard should be considered a patriotic part of our national heritage. Photo: Sen Nathan.

To celebrate Merdeka, we also have to ask, “What about the independence and freedom of our wildlife and forests?”

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Wildlife Conservation Society

WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.