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It is happening: Dept
Published on: Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: The prospect of hunters setting fire to forests so as to flush out wildlife for easy picking – laying to waste hundreds of acres of regenerating and planted forests in the process – cannot be dismissed outright, according to Forestry Director Datuk Sam Mannan (pic).

"It's true, " Mannan said in response to a Daily Express query on claims by Beaufort District Officer Mohd Shaid Othman about greedy hunters being among the causes of open burning in the Binsuluk Forest Reserve.

Mohd Shaid had said he was airing information that came to his attention while waiting for the facts from a police investigation into the claims.

"They burn the forest so that animals especially deer, can be hunted easily," Mohd Shaid was quoted as saying in a front page report in Daily Express on Monday.

However, the State Wildlife Department dismissed it as "far-fetched", saying the reserve had a poor presence of animals.

"Since last year, we have detected people in Sungei Pinangah, on motor bike from nearby kampongs, using fire to flush out pangolins among other wildlife from piles of wood debris and branch wood inside the forest where these animals live and breed.

"The half roasted animals were caught while escaping," said Mannan.


Sg Pinangah Forest Reserve forms part of 50,020ha Tankulap-Pinangah FMU17A where forest operations centre on enhancement of forest ecosystems via sivi-culture – vine cutting, restoration, rehabilitation, intensification of forest protection work and wildlife monitoring within.

"Another method is to burn sawdust around abandoned mills to lure out the deer which lick salty burnt sawdust and shoot them, also near communities," he said.

"In both cases we lost hundreds of acres of planted forests and regenerating forests due to the lit fires," Mannan stressed.

"We recently caught a Gaharu poacher at night in Sepilok, using our trained dogs, a Belgian shepherd.

The culprit has been arrested to be charged under Section 30 (1) of the Forest Enactment Sabah 1968 for illegal felling and illegal possession. We are acquiring two more body guard dogs, this time, for detect and pounce operations.

Two more staff have been sent for a four-month training at a specialised Centre in Perlis," Mannan said.


Asked the reason to resort to dogs, he said conventional pursuit doesn't work. "They can outrun us in the jungle but not the dogs. This is a serious threat to wildlife in Sabah," he said.

He said one way to curb this serious threat is to close all markets selling illegal meat. "Most are exported at high prices."

"People are moving to the east coast to do poaching, "Mannan asserted. "It appears they must also plunder well beyond their backyard at the expense of the local communities."

Meanwhile, Mannan said the fire that ravaged Binsuluk is out. Mannan was given the mandate by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman last week to use whatever means available to supress the recent forest fires that enveloped the Capital with blinding haze last Tuesday and Wednesday.

Heavy smouldering smoke from peat litter bound Binsuluk was the major hot spot which caused much of trouble which brought West Coast of Sabah to its knees.

"We are monitoring the situation by air regularly," he said.


"The surrounding lands have mainly smoulders but dying. So my verdict is it's safe for the moment," an action-oriented Mannan said.

He credited effective inter-agency synergy, well trained fire fighters and rain for the rapid results.

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