State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has issued an all-out action to address the issue in Sabah using the fullest extent of the law to punish the culprits.
“The war on illegal wildlife trade and poaching has just begin, so hunters and poachers in Sabah be warned that there will be no compromise as we will be prosecuting and we will charge them to the highest extent of the law. Be ready to go to jail,” warned Masidi.
The Minister was responding to the successful sting operation carried out by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) yesterday morning at the Tamu grounds of Nabawan Town, which netted three individuals.
“A total of 145 kilograms of Sambar deer meat and 15 kilograms of Barking deer meat were confiscated by our wildlife rangers as they were being sold without valid permits,” said Benedict Jani, Officer in Charge of SWD Office in Keningau.
However, three other traders managed to flee after the first two were apprehended along with a third individual who resisted arrest and prevented SWD Officers from confiscating the meat, added Jani.
“Nabawan district has become a hotspot for the sale of illegal bushmeat in recent years due to the vast road networks all the way to Tawau and we will not be surprised if this meat was illegally hunted in Maliau Basin or as far as some protected Forest Reserves in Tawau and Lahad Datu,” shared Jani.
The SWD has been clamping down on such activities and currently it has 10 similar cases pending prosecution.
The samples of the confiscated meat will also be sent to the new Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic Laboratory for genetic analysis to confirm the species of wildlife, according to Dr Sen Nathan, Assistant Director of SWD and also a wildlife veterinarian.
“We would also be conducting analysis to see if there are any viruses or bacteria found in the confiscated meat that could be hazardous to human health which is also a concern for the department,” said Sen.
In addition SWD director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu has stated that the SWD would be increasing regular surveillance on all districts in Sabah for illegal poaching and trading by beefing up its wildlife enforcement capabilities and efficiency by setting up a separate unit.
“We want to follow the template of our very successful Wildlife Rescue Unit and we need about RM2 million to get the Wildlife Enforcement Unit underway with at least five fully modified four wheeled drive vehicles, 500 camera traps, unmanned drones for the team of 20 wildlife enforcement rangers,” said Laurentius.
“The operation in Nabawan is just the beginning, we will arrest you for poaching and selling wildlife illegally” said Laurentius unequivocally.