Sabah joint ops reveal vulnerable Tabin wildlife reserve under threat by poachers

One of Sabah’s richest wildlife reserves has become the playground for poachers preying on the state’s rich fauna, the Sabah Wildlife Department warned today. — AFP pic
One of Sabah’s richest wildlife reserves has become the playground for poachers preying on the state’s rich fauna, the Sabah Wildlife Department warned today. — AFP pic

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 25 — One of Sabah’s richest wildlife reserves has become the playground for poachers preying on the state’s rich fauna, the Sabah Wildlife Department warned today.

In a statement, the authorities said a week-long sweep of the 1,225 sq m area recent showed evidence of indiscrimate poaching activities being carried out.

“The Joint Ops Khazanah drew to a close today with evidence from the sweep that included 62 snares laid throughout the area, 51 bullet shells, and a broken piece of firearm,” said its director Augustine Tuuga.

“Officials have also found 5 deer antlers, a banteng horn, and several elephant skeletal remains. An arrest has also been made in a shop within a plantation for having in possession 22 birds without a permit.”

The operation was a collaborative effort between the department, the General Operations Force’s (GOF) Sabah Brigade (Battalion 15), the Sabah Forestry Department, and World Wildlife Fund Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia).

The operation ran between November 19 and 24 this year, where a total of 69 individuals divided into five teams were deployed at different points in Tabin in an active pursuit of poachers to combat illegal wildlife crime.

Each team was tasked to sweep their designated points, gather evidence of poaching which includes weapons, traps and abandoned campsites.

Aside 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.

“Aside from our mission to eradicate poaching, we have also taken this opportunity as training for Counter Insurgency Warfare. Ultimately, this collaboration has been a necessary measure to close the gaps that exist between agencies in Sabah,” said GOF superintendent Toipi Lamat at the closing ceremony of the Joint Ops Khazanah held today.

The operation was the first of many planned joint patrolling efforts in various other regions of Sabah.

“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.

Also present at the closing ceremony were representatives from nearby plantations who have been encouraged to play a bigger role in the fight against poaching.

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