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PETALING JAYA (Dec 11): The Sabah state government has declared war on illegal wildlife trade and poaching, warning hunters in the state that there would be no compromise.
In making the call, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the state would prosecute and charge them to the "highest extent of the law".
"Be ready to go to jail," he warned.
Masidi was responding to the successful sting operation carried out by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) on Wednesday 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 was confiscated as they were being sold without valid permits.
Keningau SWD officer Benedict Jani said that the 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.
"We will not be surprised if this bushmeat was illegally hunted in Maliau Basin or as far as some protected Forest Reserves in Tawau and Lahad Datu,” he said.
The department, Jani added, has been clamping down on such activities and currently have 10 similar cases pending prosecution.
SWD director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the department will be increasing regular surveillance on all districts in Sabah for illegal poaching as well as trading by strengthening its wildlife enforcement capabilities and efficiency by setting up a separate unit.
The operation in Nabawan, Laurentius assured, was just the beginning.
"We want to follow the template of our very successful Wildlife Rescue Unit and we need about RM 2 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," he said.