KOTA KINABALU: A host of exotic wildlife meat, including those from protected species, are being sold openly at a tamu (weekly farmers’ market) in Sabah’s interior Nabawan town.
Wildlife rangers have been sent to check on the public tip-offs on the open sale of slaughtered protected species at the market, some 200km from Kota Kinabalu.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said that the species included the binturong or bear cat, common palm civet, banded palm civet, Malay civet, sambar deer, porcupine, blood python and many others.
“These species are definitely hunted from forest reserves and national parks, where hunting is totally forbidden,” said Dr Laurentius, who promised action against those responsible as such acts were “unacceptable”.
He said they would be going after the suspects involved in the selling and hunting of the animals.
The newly-opened Wildlife Health Genetic and Forensic Laboratory would analyse confiscated illegal bushmeat to determine species and origin using genetic tools, he said.
Wildlife department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said there was a clear and present danger to wildlife in Sabah as illegal hunting and poaching was happening at an unprecedented rate that was fuelled by both local consumption and also by international illegal trade in wildlife.
“The department is seriously looking at beefing up the department’s capacity by setting up a Wildlife Enforcement Unit to address this serious issue, which will be very similar to the very successful Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit,” Dr Nathan added.
Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said there were evidence of illegal hunting and wildlife trade happening in national parks and protected forests in Sabah based on evidence caught 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 risking their lives by handling and consuming wildlife.
“Take the example of ebola, a zoonotic and deadly disease transmitted by bushmeat handling and consumption in central Africa, especially of chimpanzees and gorillas.
“Closer to home, the nipah virus was carried by flying foxes (fruit bats) and then transmitted to pigs. This later affected the people handling or consuming bats or pork, and it proved fatal for many in peninsular Malaysia,” he said.