The relationship between the UK and Sabah dates back to British North Borneo (now Sabah), Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said.
“We even went through war together with some 600 British Prisoners of War (POWs) who perished on the infamous Sandakan to Ranau Death March 74 years ago.
"But not everything is dark and gloomy. In recent years we've had other great success stories that we've shared. Particularly, Sir David Attenborough (an English natural historian who visited Sabah to do documentaries), who stands out from the crowd, had done great service in portraying the world's rich flora and fauna of Sabah, "she said here on Monday at" An Evening with the Honorable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment.
Liew hosted the dinner reception at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill in collaboration with World Travel Market (WTM) London 2019, which ended on Wednesday, with the theme "Celebrating Sabah's Natural and Cultural Biodiversity."
The 30-odd guests included British tour operators ' progressives, naturalists, nature experts, presenters, and owners.
The participants included Tourism Director Malaysia London Mohd Shahrir Mohd Ali and Sabah Tour Operators ' representatives, under the auspices of the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), namely the Borneo Eco Tours, the Borneo Nature Tours, the Borneo Beyond Adventure Tourist Board, George Jessel (great-grandson of Sir Charles Jessel who established Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu)
The Minister has also paid tribute in a double-screen sequence on her Wild Borneo Adventure to English TV presenter Kate Humble, who is trained in nature programs, for recording her journey to Sabah and to Dame Judi Dench, (a popular British Oscar-winner who turns 85 this year).
In April of this year, Dench visited Sabah to film a documentary on the Danum Valley Conservation Area during her cruise in Borneo to help save the rainforest and species in threat. During her visit, she adopted three orangutans, which reportedly had left her speechless.
She said in a statement from 2000 on the Orang Utan UK Appeal that "we thank you for the exchange of information and for also your huge contribution to help us protect endangered Orang Utan" to Sabah at the Sepilok Orang Utan Center in Sandakan.
Liew said the state government has conferred the title of Datuk on Orang Utan UK Appeal's founder cum chairman, Susan Sheward, in appreciation of her great work in raising funds for the conservation and rescue of endangered wildlife in Sabah. Orangutan UK is a charitable organization dedicated to protecting and preserving orangutans and their habitat.
Meanwhile, the Minister said the state government has reached a milestone by formulating wildlife-related policies such as the 10-year Elephant Conservation Action Plan (2020-2030) to prevent the Borneo Pygmy elephant from extinguishing.
"In the protected Tawau Hills Park, for example, a Pangolin sanctuary is set to become the new tourist attraction of Sabah's wildlife," she said.
According to Liew, because it has a large forest, Tawau was chosen as a suitable location for the pangolin sanctuary."It will be the right place for pangolins because there is plenty of food supply, such as insects (termites and ants)," she clarified, adding that more effective and efficient conservation efforts will be made with a proper sanctuary.
The opportunity was taken to promote Sabah books such as "Curry Leaves" compiled by Chief Minister's wife, Datin Seri Shuryani Shuaib, "Wild Sabah" produced by wildlife expert Datuk Dr. Junaidi Payne, and "Opogi-The Bornean Crocodile" written by journalist Jaswinder Kaur Kler Liew presented copies of those books to all the guests.
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