Little known pangolin presence on Gaya Island plays key role in
Little known pangolin presence on Gaya Island plays key role in

Little-known pangolin presence on Gaya Island plays key role in ecosystem

KOTA KINABALU: The ability of the Sunda pangolin to survive on Gaya Island, a 10-minute boat ride from the state capital here, has piqued the interest of conservationists.

The animal is critically endangered in Sabah’s wilds, but has not only established a foothold on the island but also helps to keep the forest ecosystem there in balance.

Researchers from Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s (UMS) Faculty of Tropical Forestry together with the island’s guardian, Sabah Parks, have been carrying out a study on the pangolin’s ecology in the 1,465ha island’s rainforest.

UMS researcher Elsiey Ercy Jomes Joseph has been studying the animal’s dietary preferences on the island and its role in the ecosystem of the rainforest for the past year.

She has meticulously collected data on the tracks and signs of Sunda pangolins which have been feeding on ants and termites.

Elsiey, whose research on pangolin survival on the island is part of her Master’s degree in Forestry, said the Sunda pangolin survives on the island primarily because of the ample natural food sources.

She noted there were few available sources of peer-reviewed online information on the Sunda pangolin in Sabah with only two publications by her faculty to date.

Faculty dean Prof Dr Normah Awang Besar said the Sunda pangolin serves as a crucial species in maintaining balance in the forest ecosystem by regulating termite and ant populations, as these are its natural prey.

“Safeguarding and preserving this species is vital for present and future generations,” she said, adding that the research was in line with achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Sabah Parks research and education officer Fred Tuh, who has been working with UMS on the study, said camera traps highlighted the presence of Sunda pangolins on the island in 2019.

“With the current study, we’re examining the dietary preferences of the pangolin and the perception Sabahans have of this species.

“Approximately 70% of Sabahans are unaware of the presence of this critically-endangered species on Gaya Island,” he said.

To ensure the survival of the Sunda pangolin on Gaya Island, Tuh said the public could play a more active role in its preservation.

Sila Baca Juga

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