KOTA KINABALU, Nov 4 — Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal today said there is an urgent need to engage small-time farmers and big plantations in the fight against wildlife poaching, following the discovery of a third elephant carcass in the span of five weeks in the state’s east coast.
Shafie, who had previously set conservation of Sabah’s natural resources as among his top priorities said awareness for the protection of wildlife needed to start on the ground to prevent the problem from becoming rampant.
“I think getting people at large, especially farmers, — smallholders, not just big plantations, need to be engaged to ensure these incidents do not repeat,” he said when speaking to reporters at the state administrative centre today.
“The implication is wide. It is not just us who will stand to face consequences but the whole country. If we don’t nip it in the bud, it will enable the demand, and there will be more issues,” he said.
Shafie was asked to comment about whether there was a need to revamp conservation efforts following the latest death of a Borneo pygmy elephant in the wild, this time the body was found floating in the Kinabatangan river after reportedly sighted in Batu Puteh.
In late September, a bull elephant was found in Sungai Udin, in Kalabakan with over 70 bullet wounds in its body and its tusks missing. Six suspects, including a worker from the Federal Land Development Authority have been apprehended and are expected to face charges for firearm and wildlife offences.
Last month, another elephant body was found with its tusks removed and later recovered at a plantation Sabah’s central Beluran district. The cause of death has yet to be determined in this case. No suspect has been charged either.
Shafie today said that while he was waiting for more information on the latest case while adding that he was grateful that the Inspector-general of police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador had announced an all-out war against wildlife offenders.
“I appreciate what the IGP said in his fight against traffickers, that they would increase enforcement to help,” he said.
Abdul Hamid had earlier today said police was looking to go all out against wildlife poachers and restaurants serving exotic meats, particularly of endangered species, and may introduce stricter penalties as well as shoot to kill orders in the pursuit against poachers.