KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Forestry Department will be roped in to help stem the killing of the state’s endangered wildlife.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said his ministry was looking at empowering the department to enforce the Sabah Wildlife Protection Enactment.
“We are looking at both the enforcement and prosecution aspects to assist the Wildlife Department,” he said.
He said Sabah chief conservator of forests Datuk Sam Mannan was receptive to the idea.
Masidi added that his ministry was evaluating the legal aspects of extending the state’s wildlife protection legislation to Forestry Department personnel.
“The Forestry Department has more men on the ground and its rangers are in forest reserves that are wildlife habitats,” he said.
Masidi acknowledged that the Wildlife Department did not have enough staff members to keep track of the fauna in Sabah’s vast interior.
He said it was also challenging to find witnesses who could help the department track down and prosecute poachers.
“This is even when we offer monetary rewards,” he said, adding that poachers quickly slipped away after killing an animal.
Sabah’s unique and endangered Bornean pygmy elephants, numbering some 2,000, are among the favourite targets of poachers.
Last week, the carcass of a bull elephant riddled with bullet wounds was found in a plantation in Tawau district on the east coast.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said it was likely that the elephant was shot at another location but managed to flee before succumbing to its wounds.
Plantation workers discovered the dead elephant with its tusks intact and informed their managers.