KOTA KINABALU, Nov 30 — An elite team of 50 wildlife rangers equipped with firearms may be the answer to Sabah’s escalating poaching problem.
Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said today that authorities have mooted the idea of a specialised team of rangers who would be trained to look solely into wildlife protection aspects including data and intelligence collection and surveillance, criminal analysing and prosecution.
“They will be armed, and work on shifts. They won’t do anything but 24-hour surveillance. We will give them guns — we have about 95 guns — Glocks, Scorpion and Italian shotguns. It’s not necessarily to shoot people, more for warnings, but if thing get heated, they have to be able to protect themselves,” he said during his speech at the Borneo Banteng international workshop and conference here.
Mannan said the idea is still at the proposal stage, but added that the elite rangers would be under the Wildlife Enforcement Unit if accepted. He also said they are looking for funding.
“We will recruit people who have experience in this field.
“There will be a specially trained unit that have killer instincts. We are dealing with crooks and we have to play dirty too. No mercy-mercy business,” he said, adding that there would still have to work out a standard operating procedure for firing shots.
Danau Girang Field Centre director Benoit Goossens who was also present said such action was needed in light of the escalating threat againsts Sabah’s declining wildlife.
“We have to take such action because it is getting serious. There are people hawking exotic meat at five-star resorts, things like pangolin scales.
“This year alone we have had seven cases of poached elephants. In West Malaysia, the animals are being poached for their hide. It’s not here yet but we have to be ready and show them we mean business,” he said.
Goossens said that there was willingness by the state authorities to carry out this proposal and hoped that the idea would be able to increase the likelihood of catching poachers and bringing them to justice.