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Customs puzzled how jumbo tusk smuggled into Kalimantan
Published on: Friday, August 04, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The State Customs Department has not received any information on the elephant tusk that allegedly made its way across the border to North Kalimatan via Tawau. The department said it is their normal practice to conduct detailed inspections at all times not only on suspicious containers but all luggage and items going through Customs check.

"We did not detect any elephant tusk, we will be informed if there was any," said State Customs Director Datuk Dr Janathan Kandok.

Malaysian Insight picked up the news from CNN Indonesia that a single tusk, weighing about 2.7kg and covered in a sack of fertiliser, was confiscated from a foreign worker as he entered Nunukan on July 24.

The 50-year-old man from East Nusa Tenggara allegedly told Indonesian police he bought the tusk from a Malaysian for RM1,500.

It also quoted a Sabah conservationists who claimed that the man went through proper channels, raising questions as to how enforcement officers at the Tawau checkpoint could have missed detecting the item in the man's luggage before he left the State.

In response to this, Janathan said that it is their opinion, stressing that they have not detected anything thus far.

"We have not detected anything, which means the item could not have passed through legal landing place, even if they had entered the State, they would have to go through checkpoints at airports or ports, the item is too big, and surely it cannot go through without being detected.

"The tusk is big and in my opinion, how many tusks do we have in Sabah, it could perhaps be from another place and brought here.

"But whatever it is we have and will tighten our controls," he said.

Five elephant tusks seized from a woman at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine station in Nunukan, North Kalimantan, Indonesia, in January this year.

Indonesia's news portal Kompas said a woman who claimed to be heading to Flores was halted by the country's immigration authorities in Nunukan for carrying the tusks.

The report further said the woman was released after explaining that the items do not belong to her but she was just entrusted to carry them.

The tusks were found hidden in the woman's bag as it passed through the Indonesian Customs X-ray machine with the Indonesian authorities valuing the items at RM33,000 (or Rp 100 million).

Killing elephants for their ivory is unheard of in Sabah who have previously been poisoned to death for being a "nuisance" in plantations or ended up dead after being stuck in a quarry pit at the most.

However, the grim discovery of a decapitated bull pygmy elephant in the vicinity of the Ulu Segama Forest reserve in January this year may be an indication that the world crackdown on the ivory trade lately is making poachers try their luck in Sabah.

It was learnt that a single shotgun was fired at a male jumbo at an oil palm plantation boundary next to the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve. Its trunk was chopped off, its head hacked and tusks had disappeared without a trace. - Sherell Ann Jeffrey



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