KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife conservation management in Sabah will be completely revamped to tackle the loss of key animal species due to poaching and loss of habitat if Parti Warisan Sabah is voted into government, says Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
The Warisan president said this would include an injection of RM15mil or more over a period of five years to modernise, upgrade and re-equip the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD).
The money will be used to improve the SWD's core activities of enforcement, wildlife monitoring, addressing human-wildlife conflict, enhancing awareness on wildlife conservation as well as research and capacity building, he said.
With 225 officers and rangers, the SWD is critically understaffed and ill-equipped to manage the current wildlife crisis in Sabah.
Shafie said Warisan pledged to increase SWD's manpower by 25%.
This will also enhance professional relationships with local and foreign wildlife conservation and research organisations and NGOs to boost Sabah's reputation in wildlife conservation globally, he said.
"We must take urgent steps if Sabah's wildlife is to survive and a Warisan government has every intention to do that," said Shafie.
He said the Bornean rhinoceros is now classified as extinct in the wild in Sabah and the state's only wild cattle, the Bornean banteng or tembadau is critically under threat.
The majestic Bornean elephant has not been spared either with only about 2,000 left in Sabah, as many of them have been either shot or poisoned in the past five years, said Shafie.
Sabah's iconic Bornean orang utan has also declined considerably in numbers.
According to a recent scientific paper published in the Current Biology Journal, 6,000 orang utans died in Sabah in the last 16 years.
He also said that poaching had also reached epidemic proportions.
Poaching is no longer just a matter of personal consumption by locals but feeds the very lucrative but illegal global trade of wildlife products, added Shafie.
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