Sabah DCM tells authorities to raid eateries selling pangolin meat


KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew has urged relevant authorities to raid eateries serving Sunda pangolin meat as a way of preventing the potential extinction of these scaly anteaters.

In conjunction with World Pangolin Day (Feb 16), Liew, who is also Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, encouraged the public to provide tip-offs on any restaurants selling pangolin meat.

She reminded the public that pangolins were now listed as fully protected animals under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

As such, pangolin traffickers in Sabah face a fine between RM50,000 and RM250,000, or a prison term up to five years or both.

Liew said the government will continue to proactively protect pangolins, including seeing to the establishment of the Sabah Pangolin Sanctuary and Research Institute (SAPSARI), as suggested by retired Malaysian-born engineer Peter Chan.

During a courtesy call to Liew's office in October last year, Chan, who is based in the United States, said that he was ready to provide the funding for SAPSARI through his US-based Pangolin Conservation Initiative.

Liew said she intends to bring the sanctuary up to the state cabinet for the government's decision as soon as she possibly can, but acknowledged that the process will take some time.

"We have exchanged emails and discussed possible locations to set up the sanctuary, but we have to first go through legal procedures before taking it to the cabinet for a decision by the government.

"We also need to finalise the issue of funding. Chan is very passionate and committed to ensuring that the sanctuary is set up, so this will be part of the issue that we will discuss further," she added.

Meanwhile, Chan reiterated his commitment to the cause at the World Pangolin Day gala dinner at Hilton Kota Kinabalu on Saturday (Feb 16).

"We have to condemn the poaching of pangolins with one, single, united voice. As humans, we have done lots of damage to the environment. These have dire consequences that we may never undo.

"We need to invest in the environment, so that we can pass it on to our future generations.

"Pangolins are a critically endangered species and one small step away from extinction. We have to put a programme together to save these animals.

"With proper technology and utilising big data, we can do it in two to three years," Chan said in his speech.

Both Liew and Chan also commended local pangolin expert Elisa Panjang, who is also with Danau Girang Field Centre, for her role in curbing the massive losses of these mammals.

   

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