KOTA KINABALU, Dec 13 ― Calls for an elite armed wildlife enforcement team to combat poaching in Sabah has gained traction with the death of another bull elephant believed to have been shot inside a protected area.
Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) director Benoit Goossens said the decomposed carcass of a 12-year-old collared elephant named Liningkung was found in the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve, not very far from Kawag Danum Rainforest Lodge and 5km from the Sabah Forestry Department’s office in the area.
“The carcass was found yesterday by forestry officials when I alerted them about my concern of a lack of movement from the GPS tracking device.
“It died on 27 November 2017 if I trust my satellite data,” Goossens told Malay Mail when contacted.
He said that the carcass was found with tusks intact, leading them to believe that the elephant got away from poachers.
“According to SFD officer who found the carcass, he did not see any bullet wounds on the skull. But it does not mean that the animal has not been shot. The carcass was very advanced with just the skin left. SWD is doing a post-mortem today. We have advised them to bring a metal detector to try and find any slugs left in the remains,” he said.
SFD refers to the Sabah Forestry Department while SWD refers to the Sabah Wildlife Department.
Liningkung was collared and translocated from Telupid area to Ulu Segama Forest Reserve in May 2016, following conflicts with villagers.
He was believed to have been roaming there for 18 months before being most likely shot by poachers.
This is the third elephant found dead in the area after a special inverted-tusked sabre (also collared by DGFC) and another bull were found shot and de-tusked last December.
Recently, SFD director Datuk Sam Mannan, who is also chief conservator of forests said there was a need to set up a special wildlife enforcement unit to go after wildlife poachers and traders.
Goossens said that the team was needed urgently now before it was too late for the remaining wildlife in Sabah, many which are facing extinction due to loss of habitat, land fragmentation and illegal hunting.
“It is absolutely vital to have a specialised team to track down these poachers or else we will lose all our charismatic species... elephants, bantengs, pangolins, etc,” he said.
According to Mannan, the team would be on a 24 hour surveillance, be armed and concentrate on intelligence tracking as well as prosecution of offenders.