KOTA KINABALU: The sheer volume of pangolins found mercilessly killed at a warehouse in Sabah is a reality check for Sabah as its conservation efforts takes a beating with wildlife poaching happening on an unprecedented scale, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
She expressed her shock at the number of fully protected pangolins being killed.
“I am devastated and saddened by the sheer volume of pangolins that have been mercilessly killed,” she said yesterday.
Liew, who is state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said her ministry had taken many steps to stop this massacre by upgrading the conservation status of this species to be fully protected.
This meant that the authorities have strong laws to deal with these perpetrators.
“Almost all cases of pangolin poaching caught by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) have been successfully prosecuted and the culprits put behind bars,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the discovery of the pangolins at a warehouse in Tamparuli only shows that in reality, wildlife poaching in Sabah is happening at an unprecedented level and seems to carry on unabated.
“If this remains unchecked, it will certainly spell the extinction of yet another wildlife species in Sabah.”
The police, assisted by the SWD, seized live animals and animal parts worth RM8.4mil at the warehouse on Thursday.
Among those confiscated were 61 live pangolins, 361kg of pangolin scales, 572 frozen pangolins, three containers filled with 1,860 boxes of frozen pangolins, two animal feet believed to be those of a bear and four frozen bats.
Liew thanked the police for successfully arresting the 35-year-old mastermind behind this heinous wildlife crime, and said these heartless criminals should be punished with fullest extent of the law.
She said that pangolins were listed in Part 1 Schedule 1 of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, which forbids hunting, consuming, possessing or selling pangolins or their parts.
Offenders can be fined from RM50,000 to RM250,000 or jailed between one and five years.
Liew called for the need to increase awareness programmes in wildlife poaching hotspots to change the people’s perception towards wildlife.
“Wildlife has more value when they are alive than when they are dead,” she added.
She called for the development of eco-tourism programmes in the villages to attract visitors “towards creating a sustainable income generator and stopping wildlife poaching”.