After logged forest, big plantations are the main user of land in Malaysia. The land that they farm was formerly the main wildlife habitat – like plantation crops, large mammals need lowlands, not hills.
Historically and globally, farmers want to keep wildlife out of their property. But farms could help sustain populations of those wild species that cause minimal damage to crops (or where the potential for damage could be mitigated) by providing space for feeding and for moving between protected areas. This would apply in the Malaysian context to oil palm, rubber and industrial tree plantations. The locations of these plantations tend to be where large-bodied wildlife used to thrive, due to fertile soils and high productivity of food plants.
Challenges: changing the perceptions of big land-owners, at both corporate and estate management levels; implementation will be voluntary
Examples: there is a sparse population of Bornean orangutans in the Kinabatangan region of Sabah, where 90% of the land is under oil palm plantations, and male orangutans travel through the landscape to mate with females in scattered forest patches. The food of Sunda pangolins (termites and ants) can be found on agricultural lands, gardens and forests. Captive propagation of pangolins will be too difficult to manage at scale, due to the difficulty of providing adequate foods. The threat to the species is excessive human offtake. An approach that has yet to be tried out consists of minimising human offtake in one or more designated large landscapes of mixed plantations and forest by agreement of participating land managers. Confiscated pangolins to be released into these landscapes.
Possible treatment : for orangutans, work is already underway with partner oil palm plantations in Kinabatangan, Sabah, in conducting experimental habitat restoration in favour of orangutans. This is done by enriching riparian zones, slopes, infertile sites, High Conservation Value sites and other set- aside lands with orangutans’ favoured food plants. The experimental work is done by BORA as a component of the WWF Living Landscapes programme, funded by WWF-Malaysia/Unilever. The source of planting materials is primarily the Sabah Ficus Germplasm Centre.