David Attenborough helped change the minds of local government officials regarding plans to build a highway bridge in Malaysian Borneo.
The bridge, often referred to as the ‘Sukau bridge’, would have been built across the Kinabatangan River and Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in the state of Sabah.
“I am immensely pleased to hear that plans to build a bridge over the Kinabatangan River at Sukau have been cancelled,” said Attenborough.
A number of conservationists had raised concerns over the bridge due to its potential to increase the isolation of groups of endangered mammals and environmental damage that could be caused during construction.
The letter written by Attenborough on behalf of the World Land Trust, extracts of which were published in the Guardian in March 2017, helped to convince the chief minister of Sabah to cancel the development.
“That headline broke the camel’s back,” said Datuk Sam Mannan, chief conservator of forests in a speech in April, referring to the Guardian article’s headline: “David Attenborough attacks plan for Borneo bridge that threatens orangutans”.
“It made us understand that the issue of a proposed bridge across a protected area for wildlife, is now the number one environmental concern not just in Sabah, but globally too, because of the extremely precarious situation of the rich wildlife therein.”
The region is home to a variety of threatened wildlife, including pygmy elephants, orangutans, clouded leopards, sun bears and pangolins.
Main image: David Attenborough speaking at a World Land Trust event. © David Bebber