Sabah to review logging concessions after elephant deaths

It is estimated that there are fewer than 2,000 wild elephants in Sabah. — filepic

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Government will review logging concessions in “critical” areas where dead pygmy elephants have been discovered recently.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the state government will review the current concessions, including those under Forest Management Units, as they might be related to the deaths.

“We have to assess concessions in water catchment areas where there is wildlife. If the concessions are in accordance with the law, then they will be continued,” he said, adding that concessionaires practising “unhealthy" habits will be penalised.

Shafie said he will be meeting Forestry Department officials next week to discuss the matter further.

He said other problems highlighted to him included illegal logging in gazetted forest reserves.

“Although timber is a form of revenue for the state government, it is important for us to examine the problem in depth.

“We do not want this source of revenue to cause environmental problems in Sabah,” said Shafie after the state Cabinet meeting.

The carcasses of six endangered Bornean pygmy elephants in the east coast of Sabah aged between one and 37 years were discovered separately from April 6 to May 20.

The deaths have raised concerns over the well-being of the elephants, which number around 2,000 in the wild.

On the temporary ban of logs exported outside the state, Mohd Shafie said the logs could only be sold for the domestic market to meet demand such as from furniture factories.

“The development of the local logging industry will also provide more job opportunities to Sabahans.

“I am confident that with this move, we will be able to develop the industry,” he said, adding the ban would not affect the state’s income.

At a separate function, Shafie said a unit to monitor key performance index (KPI) in each ministry in the state would be set up.

Shafie said an annual report would be made on the KPI evaluation of every ministry.

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