25 – 30 June
N6 52.810 E116 50.728 – Kudat Harbour
N7 12.540 E117 18.716 – Pulau Banggi
The efficient WWF Malaysia machinery was immediately felt when I started getting a series of text messages regarding transport, hotel accommodations and our overall visit to Kudat from Betty of the WWF KK office. Then Sofia Johari, the CEPA or Community Education, Protection, and Awareness Officer of Kudat-Banggi PCA left me a message that she was going to coordinate our Kudat trip, and boy, did she. Upon our arrival, she gave us a professionally prepared PowerPoint presentation which in an hour gave us an idea of what the Kudat area was like and what WWF projects there were.
Picking up some information about Kudat PCA from the WWF Malaysia website, our new images somewhat weaves a photo montage of what this area is all about:
“Kudat is a new park at the northernmost tip of Borneo.The Kudat-Banggi Priority Conservation Areafeatures the rich and productive waters off thenorthernmost tip of the island of Borneo.
It was declared globally significant for its rich mix of habitats (coral reefs, seagrasses, mangroves,and open sea), endangered species such as dugong and sea turtles, and its fisheries. Kudat-Banggi forms the southern half of the Balabac Straits separating Borneo from Palawan, Philippines and joins the Sulu Sea to the South China Sea. The straits are an important passage for oceanic fish, whale sharks and sea turtles.
The Sabah State Government proposed the area for gazettement as the Tun Mustapha Park under the jurisdiction of Sabah Parks. When gazetted, it will be the largest marine protected area in Malaysia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia at over 1 million hectares. WWF-Malaysia is assisting the state government to create the Tun Mustapha Park as a multiple-use marine area.
WWF-Malaysia concentrates on building support for the park amongst stakeholders. The estimated80,000 people of various ethnic origins living in and around the proposed park earn their livelihoods from the areas’ resources. WWF-Malaysia believes that these people must benefit from the park and vice versa. The park should enhance livelihoods and access to resources while stakeholders, inhabitants and visitors should cooperate with relevant agencies in park management.”
As serendipity would have it we met new/old friends, WWF interns Peixuan and Nattelee or otherwise renamed Kudatus Gigglelatus or the Giggles. These girls laughed so much it was refreshing to feel young again plugging in to their youthful energies. The laughter level couldn’t get any higher with Alya around as well.