KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department is asking the public to avoid buying captured animals although they may be buying them to turn them over to the authorities.
Department assistant director Dr Senthilvel Nathan said buying the animals would only encourage illegal trade in wildlife.
“Instead, we are asking the public to alert us as quickly as possible about the sale of wildlife,” he said.
Senthivel said the public can contact him at 0128019289, adding that the public should try to get as much information as possible about the dealers – including photos of the dealers in action.
“We need to arrest and prosecute these offenders who threaten our beautiful wildlife,” said Senthivel.
He spoke following the actions of a family on Sunday.
The family had purchased a young male pangolin in Sandakan and handed the pangolin over to the Sabah Wildlife Department.
The pangolin was eventually brought to the Danau Girang Field Centre in the Kinabatangan region.
It was released into the wild on Monday at an event that was witnessed by Dr Melanie Billings-Yun, the wife of US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun.
“It was heartbreaking to witness the release of this wonderful animal into the wild, said Billings-Yun.
She added that US President Barack Obama had announced his government’s National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.
“My husband and I are extremely concerned by the rampant wildlife trade that threatens the biodiversity in South-East Asia,” said Billings-Yun.
She added that she hoped the Sabah state government could win the battle against illegal wildlife traders.
“We have been working very closely with the department, Danau Girang Field Centre and other partners in finding ways to tackle this issue,” said Billings-Yun.
On pangolins, Senthivel said that the department was preparing the relevant documentation to have them listed as a totally protected species.