KOTA KINABALU: A week-long crackdown by authorities at Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu, revealed the reserve to be a hotbed for poaching, says Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga.
He said this was discovered during the crackdown, dubbed Ops Khazanah, where over 62 snares, 51 bullets and broken pieces of firearms were found.
The joint operation involved the General Operations Force (PGA) Sabah Brigade (Battalion 15), Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF-Malaysia.
“During this operation, officials also found five deer antlers, a banteng horn, and several elephant skeletal remains, ” Tuuga said after the closing ceremony of the ops at the Tabin Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday (Nov 25).
He said an arrest was also made in a shop within a plantation for possessing 22 birds without a permit.
The operation from Nov 19 to 24, involved a total of 69 individuals divided into five teams deployed at different points in Tabin in active pursuit of poachers to combat illegal wildlife crime.
Each team was tasked to sweep their designated points, where they gathered evidence of poaching, which includes weapons, traps and abandoned campsites.
Apart from this, personnel from both the Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF-Malaysia also scoured the area for wildlife tracks to determine the presence of species there.
“This collaboration marks the beginning of a new and enhanced way for us to combat wildlife crime, ” Tuuga said.
He said moving forward, numerous joint patrolling efforts will be conducted.
GOF officer Supt Toipi Lamat said apart from eradicating poaching, they also took this opportunity as training for Counter-Insurgency Warfare (CIW).
“Ultimately, this collaboration has been a necessary measure to close the gaps that exist between agencies in Sabah, ” he said.
“The responsibility to protect the forests is not ours alone, but for all agencies to come together along with the support from members of the public, ” said
Sabah Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini said in his speech at the ceremony, that the responsibility to protect Sabah’s forests and wildlife requires commitment from all parties.
“The recent success of the previous joint ops that led to the capture of wildlife crime offenders in Pitas and Sugut proved to be a fruitful collaboration between the two agencies in our bid to fight wildlife crimes, ” he added.
Though Ops Khazanah has ended, the PROTECT team – a special anti-poaching arm under the Sabah Forestry Department – will continue to patrol the borders of Tabin and other forests in Sabah.
Also present at the closing ceremony were representatives from nearby plantations, who are encouraged to play a bigger role in the fight against poaching.
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