Sabah Parks into deer studies

KOTA MARUDU: Sabah Parks has opened a Deer Park at the Serinsim Substation here, paving the way for wildlife management research at Kinabalu Park.

The two-hectare gated park is equipped with a dark house and facilities including isolation areas that are used to keep deer calm as researchers conduct regular medical checks on the animals.

Peaceful creature: Chital or deer species at the park.

This enables the farm to become a model as a deer research centre that studies the deer’s breeding and eating habits, living patterns, diseases, habitat selection, growth rate and lifespan.

Development of the farm began in 2005, but only became operational upon completion of the dark house, which was officially opened recently by the Chairman of the of Trustees, Dr Joachim Gunsalam.

The Tropical Park at the Poring station was the first deer farm opened by Sabah Parks in 1988, housing only two deer, one of them having been donated by the Wildlife Department.

Breeding efforts were successful and the number of deer multiplied over the years. However, when the deer population reached 24, it was decided that the area of habitat needed to be expanded as the ratio of a deer to an area should be 1 deer to 0.4 hectare, according to experts.

Sabah Parks then took the initiative to open the larger Serinsim Deer Farm, which has the capacity and facilities to cater to the breeding needs of deer.

Dr Joachim described the effort taken to open the Serinsim Deer Farm as an important model that functions as a research centre. It also made Sabah Parks an organisation that actively participates in wildlife rehabilitation programmes in the state.

He noted that besides being a research and rescue centre for deer and other mammals, the opening of the deer farm also has become a tourist attraction, considering its location inside the Kinabalu Park, a World Heritage Site.

The development of eco-tourism at the Serinsim substation was in line with the State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry’s call to vary eco-tourism products, he said.

“It can generate income for Sabah Parks and, at the same time, provide socio-economic opportunities for the Serinsim locals,” he noted following the launching of the dark house.

The relocation of the deer from the Poring Station in Ranau to the Serinsim substation in Kota Marudu took place over a period of three days, starting March 21.

The deer were relocated from the tropical farm in Poring to the Serinsim Deer Farm here in two groups.

The first trip involved 11 deer kept in mobile enclosures and transported from the tropical farm by lorry. The trip was purposely planned for departure at about 4pm to minimize the stress to the deer while avoiding the hot weather. The animals arrived in Serinsim by 11 that night.

Sabah Parks’ staff handling the relocation monitored the conditions of the deer throughout the trip. Also, all the deer were certified as being healthy upon arrival and were subsequently released into the Serinsim Deer Farm.

The second relocated group involved nine deer, while the remaining five were left at the tropical farm so that the species could continue breeding.

Sabah Parks Zoology Research Officer Fred Tuh Yit Yu said the relocation was part of the wildlife management research activities at the parks.

He added that the relocation was not limited to transporting animals that were in conflict with humans, like macaques, but also involved the transfer of species with high population densities in certain areas of the parks.

Green all the way: Majestic views on the way up to the Gunung Kinabalu Park headquarters.

“The relocation programme will be made into a training platform for the staff involved in handling wildlife, especially the larger ones like deer,” he said.

He also said the deer relocation made it easier for the staff to monitor the animals’ health, as they are susceptible to tick and worm infestation.

The opening of the deer farm and dark house at the Serinsim substation will turn it into a tourism attraction for Sabah Parks.

The substation is in Serinsim Village, about 38 kilometres from Kota Marudu. It stands at 192 metres above sea level, where it becomes a tropical rainforest.

The unique attraction of the substation is that it is near the merging point of two rivers, the Serinsim and the Kanarom rivers. Both rivers run from inside Kinabalu Park out to Marudu Bay.

Several accommodations are available for visitors, including a 21-bed hostel, three chalets with a maximum occupancy of six each, and campsites.

Also, there are six main attractions around Serinsim for visitors. They are Mount Nambuyukong, which stands at 1,681 metres (5,515 feet) above sea level, Batu Lebah (Bee Rock), which is the size of a large house, Gua Kelawar (Bat Cave), the Misumpak Waterfall, the old grave of a local warrior named Makam Sigunting and Makam Orang Tinggi (Gambaliu).

The Serinsim substation is among six Sabah Parks substations in Mount Kinabalu. The other five are at Mata Air Panas Poring and Monggis (Ranau), Mesilau (Kundasang), Nalapak (Kota Marudu) and Sayap (Kota Belud). — Bernama