The team from WWF-Malaysia Sarawak Conservation Programme in a photo-call with their first mural project at CHMS No 3.

KUCHING: Worldwide Fund For Nature (WWF)-Malaysia Sarawak Conservation Programme recently took on its first mural painting project at Chung Hua Middle School (CHMS) No 3 here to raise awareness of species conservation.

The joint project, which ran from Aug 13 to 15, involved 15 WWF-Malaysia staff members and interns, local artists, as well as teachers and students CHMS No 3.

The 8.5m-by-2.6m mural created features four species of hornbills – the rhinoceros hornbill (Buceros rhinoceros), the white-crowned hornbill (Berenicornis comatus), the wreathed hornbill (Aceros undulatus) and the wrinkled hornbill (Aceros corrugatus).

According to WWF-Malaysia, only eight hornbill species can be found in Sarawak and they are categorised as Totally Protected Species under Sarawak Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998.

“Our hornbills are threatened by hunting, especially for their feathers as cultural headgear and attire in ethnic culture. Such hunting was especially rampant in the past but evven up to this day, these birds continue to be poached for the illegal wildlife trade,” said the organisation in a press statement.

Globally, under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, hornbills are listed as threatened species, with rhinoceros and wreathed hornbills listed as ‘vulnerable’, and the white-crowned and wrinkled hornbills as ‘endangered’.

WWF-Malaysia International Climate Initiative project manager Cynthia Chin regarded hornbills as the iconic species in Sarawak, and the state might lose its unique identity highly-associated without these majestic birds.

“Therefore, WWF-Malaysia sees mural painting or street art as an opportunity to create awareness to the public of the importance of conserving wildlife in Sarawak,” said Chin.

Chin hoped that the mural would trigger positive reaction from the public and influence relevant stakeholders to come up with a common roadmap in conservation.

She thanked CHMS No 3 for its support in the project, and also the local artists for their technical and artistic guidance.

“We plan to paint a few more murals in the state featuring other threatened species like the sun bear, pangolin, orangutan and civet, and hopefully schools, building owners and authorities concerned would be supportive of our efforts,” she added.

[Source: “Conservation key theme of WWF-M’sia’s mural project” published by BorneoPost]

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