The MESCOT initiative is fundamentally concerned with protecting the forest habitat, wildlife and biodiversity of the Lower Kinabatangan while preserving the livelihood of the local population. It was founded by the residents of Batu Putih’s village in 1997. They formed a village-based cooperative (KOPEL Ltd) in 2003 to coordinate the villager’s conservation activities and community-based ecotourism activities. DGFC is collaborating with MESCOT in a forest restoration project and we have a yearly seminar where we present the advances of our research projects to the community. We would like to set up together a River Keeper and Elephant Conservation Unit made of villagers from Batu Putih, entrusted as Honorary Wildlife Wardens by the Sabah Wildlife Department, and who will patrol the river and mitigate elephant conflicts in Batu Putih.
Ladang Kinabatangan, an oil-palm estate, located near Batu Putih encroached a riparian reserve for more than 25 years. MESCOT and DGFC jointly exposed the situation and in 2014 with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, reclaimed ten hectares of oil palms that had encroached the riparian reserve for the riparian reserve (20 acres; 1.3 km long and 20-50 metres wide). More than 400 oil palm trees were excavated and about 20,000 native trees were planted. DGFC has been supporting
KOPEL in their restoration work and assisting with the research, by monitoring the return of wildlife in the riparian reserve, and by flying a drone every year to monitor and study the forest recovery.