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KOTA KINABALU: Exotic wildlife meats including protected species are being sold openly at a market in Sabah's interior Nabawan town about 200km from Sabah's capital.
"We received pictures from the public showing protected species slaughtered and sold in a tamu (open market) in the district of Nabawan," said Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu.
He added the protected species included binturong, common palm civet, banded palm civet, Malay civet, sambar deer, porcupine and blood python.
"These species are definitely hunted from forest reserves and national parks where hunting is totally prohibited," he said.
Ambu said his department would take full action against those responsible as such acts was "unacceptable".
He said the bushmeat recovered would be sent to the newly opened Wildlife Health Genetic and Forensic Laboratory (WHGFL) in Kota Kinabalu to determine their species and origin.
Wildlife department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said that there was a clear and present danger to Sabah’s wildlife as illegal hunting and poaching were happening at an unprecedented rate.
“They are fuelled by both local consumption and also by international illegal trade in wildlife,” he said.
Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said that there was evidence of illegal hunting happening in national parks and protected forests in Sabah based on evidence captured by camera traps.
Dr Goossens also cautioned the public who hunt, handle, buy and eat bushmeat that they were not only acting against the law but also risk their lives by handling and consuming wildlife.
"Take the example of Ebola, a zoonotic and deadly disease transmitted by bushmeat, especially chimpanzees and gorillas, in central Africa, Ebola has killed thousands of people,” he said.