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10 APRIL 2024

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Poaching of Sabah wildlife on the rise, says conservation body

A bull elephant that was murdered by ivory poachers in central Sabah. (Sabah Wildlife Department pic)
KOTA KINABALU: A tropical biodiversity research outfit here says there has been an alarming increase in poaching and wildlife trafficking for the past few years in Sabah.
Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said elephants, bantengs, sun bears, pangolins and sea turtles were those specially affected by the rise in poaching.
“In 2019 alone, Sabah lost more than 15 elephants to firearms and poisoning in forest reserve areas and plantations while close to RRM8 million worth of pangolin scales, elephant ivory and wildlife meat in Sepanggar and Tamparuli was also seized.
“And last year, three Bornean bantengs were shot in Paitan Forest Reserve on the same day,” Goossens said in a statement today.
He said the Sime Darby Foundation had allocated RM4 million to the state forestry department to increase the capacity of its “Protect Team”, targeting the eradication of poaching and wildlife trafficking in Sabah.
A poacher sitting on a banteng bull he just shot in Tabin Wildlife Reserve. (Danau Girang Field Centre pic)
Chief Conservator of Forests, Mashor Mohd Jaini, said Sime Darby’s support would “put more boots on the ground” and provide for equipment purchases and the cost of training the rangers.
He added that the Protect Team was formed in 2016 with the support of WWF-Malaysia to monitor two million hectares of totally protected and conservation areas, mainly focusing on illegal forestry activities and forest reserves’ encroachment.
“It also carries out anti-poaching patrols in forest reserves and road blocks at strategic locations. But 24 rangers to cover such an area are not enough. Therefore, the support from the foundation is crucial to allow us to increase our presence in the field and combat wildlife poaching and trafficking,” Mashor said.
Sime Darby Foundation council member Caroline Russell said SDF was also working with the Perak State Park Corporation for the protection of the Royal Belum State Park in Perak by supporting two teams of rangers and Orang Asal as boots on the ground to patrol the state park,” she said.
She added they wanted to avoid a recurrence of the Sumatran rhinos situation whereby the animal is now on the brink of extinction.
“We hope that the communities surrounding our forests will also be our eyes and ears in combatting this criminal act (poaching and trafficking),” Russell said. - FMT

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