KOTA KINABALU, March 30 — Hollywood celebrity Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, touched by wildlife conservation efforts in Sabah, will help promote the preservation of the state’s endangered species to the world.
The Ipoh-born actress said she said she will work with the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry on a documentary to highlight Sabah’s marine treasures including its turtles and coral reefs.
“I’ve been championing the orangutans but will work on other endangered wildlife. We are so blessed to have so much diversity and it is our duty to protect them. It is my duty to give them a voice,” she said.
Yeoh, who is the Malaysian Ambassador for Orangutan Conservation, said she witnessed first-hand the diversity and uniqueness of Sabah’s wildlife at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation centre and Kinabatangan river, and was impressed by the conservation work underway.
“There is always more to be done. The work here is Sabah is commendable. There are some concerted efforts being made to address the issue but the sad part is the problem is still there.
“But I’m happy to see some efforts, and there is political will – both at the federal and local government level supportive of such issues,” she said when speaking to reporters during a Press conference ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Workshop on Combating Wildlife Trafficking.
She said she was delighted to hear that authorities are discussing heavier penalties on wildlife traffickers and perpetrators to befit the crime and deter them in the future.
Yeoh, a former Miss Malaysia turned action heroine, said she will also work with the Sabah wildlife ministry on educating the public on the importance of conserving wildlife in the state.
“Our wildlife face threats and we must not only work for their conservation, but also fight against illegal wildlife traffickers.
She said that organised crime rings are slaughtering endangered species such as rhinoceroses, elephants, sea turtles, tigers and pangolins as well as many other species for purported medicinal purposes.
“To the criminals, it is a very lucrative business that can yield profits of up to 10 billion US dollars a year and often times; it involves other crimes as well.
“There is a low risk of being caught and prosecuted and the profits which they can earn are very high,” she said.