KOTA KINABALU: Sabah acknowledges the past and current contributions of British citizens to the state, particularly in conservation efforts.
Deputy chief minister Datuk Christina Liew said UK-Sabah relationship dates way back to the days of British North Borneo (now Sabah) and that the two regions have gone through thick and thin together.
While noting the death of 600 British prisoners of war during the infamous Sandakan-Ranau Death March 74 years ago was a dark memory, she said there were great success stories shared in recent years.
"Notably, English natural historian Sir David Attenborough had done great justice in portraying Sabah's rich flora and fauna to the world.
"We are also grateful to English TV presenter and wildlife programmes specialist Kate Humble for documenting her trip to Sabah, and renowned Oscar-winning British actress Dame Judi Dench for a two-part series on her Wild Borneo Adventure," she said.
Liew, who is also state Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister, was speaking to 30-odd guests at a dinner she hosted at the Hyatt Regency London-The Churchill in conjunction with the World Travel Market London 2019, early this week.
The guests comprised conservationists, naturalists, wildlife experts, presenters, and owners of tour operators from the UK.
Also present were Tourism Malaysia London director Mohd Shahrir Mohd Ali, and George Jessel, who is great grandson of Sir Charles Jessel who founded Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu), among others.
In April this year, Dench visited Sabah to film a documentary on the Danum Valley Conservation Area as part of her campaign to help save Borneo's rainforest and its endangered species. She had also adopted three orang utans during her visit.
Liew also stressed that Orang Utan UK Appeal founder Datuk Susan Sheward has assisted and contributed a lot to the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan since 2000 to help preserve the endangered animal.
She noted that the state government has conferred Sheward with Datukship in recognition of her great work in raising funds for the protection and rescue of endangered wildlife in Sabah.
She also highlighted the important role of Cardiff University's students based in the Kinabatangan's Danau Girang Field Centre in contributing great information on their field research with regards to Sabah endangered wildlife.
Speaking further on wildlife conservation, Liew said the state government has reached a milestone through the formulation of wildlife-related policies such as the 10-year Elephant Conservation Action Plan (2020-2030) to prevent the extinction of the Borneo pygmy elephant.
In addition, the protected Tawau Hills Park has been chosen as a suitable location to establish a sanctuary for critically endangered pangolins.
"Tawau was picked as a suitable location for the pangolin sanctuary because it has a vast forest. It will be a suitable place for pangolins because there's plenty of food supply there such as insects (termites and ants).
"With a proper sanctuary, more effective and efficient conservation efforts will be made," she said, adding that the Tawau Hills Park is set to become Sabah's new wildlife tourist attraction.