KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will increase its border checkpoints for wildlife smuggling if it is proven that the elephant tusk smuggled to Kalimantan recently was from Sabah.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said that the state government was concerned over last month’s incident of ivory smuggling because it raised the question of where the tusk originated.
Masidi was commenting on Indonesian authorities in Nunukan who seized a 2.7kg tusk from a migrant worker returning from Tawau on July 24.
Conservationists suspected that the tusk belonged to the endangered Borneon pygmy elephant as the worker claimed that he bought it for RM1,500 in Kota Kinabalu and was taking it back for traditional use.
“If it is proven that the tusk came from here, we definitely need to increase our border security and figure out how they got pass Malaysian checkpoints,” he said.
“But it has never been established that it is from Sabah. We know it is probable, but we need to prove it,” Masidi told reporters after announcing details of the Malaysia Day celebrations to be held in Kota Kinabalu on Sept 16.
The Wildlife Department had been instructed to meet their counterparts in Indonesia to investigate the matter and obtain DNA samples of the tusk.
“I have actually heard of this custom, from Timorese people. Some women told me they came here to work and raise money for their brother’s dowry of an elephant’s tusk. So this could be true.
“But it could also be used for other purposes. The fact is we cannot be sure of anything unless we actually catch them red-handed,” he said.
On a question about some locals allegedly offering exotic meats to tourists, Masidi said these people were contributing to the extinction of the species and were traitors to the country.
“If there are Sabahans doing this, then they are traitors who are doing a great disservice to their own state and country,” he said when commenting on claims that pangolins were served to tourist in the name of healthy food for a hefty profit.
“We in Sabah are privileged to be blessed with abundant flora and fauna that has become the state’s source of pride and resources.
“To kill our wildlife shows how unpatriotic we are and negates all work for conserving the natural treasures,” he added.