Govt-NGO initiative to protect pangolins
Published on: Monday, February 18, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The State Government through the Sabah Wildlife Department is working on a proposed Memorandum of Understanding with an animal welfare non-governmental organisation to protect pangolins in Sabah. 

Deputy Chief Minister cum State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the State Government via the Department is consistently taking steps to preserve protected animals in the State, including pangolins.

She said this after officiating a Sabah – World Pangolin Day Gala Dinner in conjunction with the pangolin conservation awareness campaign held at the Hilton Hotel, here, Saturday. 

The event was sponsored by Malaysian-born philanthropist, Peter Chan, who now resides in the United States, and is passionate about lending a helping hand to Sabah’s wildlife conservation programmes. 

“Our effort in protecting the pangolin will not stop here. The observance of the World Pangolin Day is set to pave the way for bigger things to crystallise,” said Liew. 

“Suffice for me to say that we are still at the discussion stage over Chan’s Pangolin Conservation Initiative. 

“If everything goes as planned, we should be seeing the establishment of the much-anticipated Sabah Pangolin Sanctuary and Research Institute or as Chan calls it, Sapsari,” she said.

Liew explained that they still have to go through the legal procedures and the drafts on the terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding. 

“This will then have to go to the Attorney-General Office, before I can present it to the Cabinet for the government to decide, it will be a process that takes some time, but we have to do it as soon as we can,” she said. 

She also urged the relevant authorities to raid eateries serving pangolin meat to tourists and welcomes tip-off from the public on such activities. 

Over the years, numerous steps have been by the State Government including to set up a policy to protect wildlife and their natural habitat.

The government has even listed pangolins as a fully protected animal under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 and raised the maximum fine to RM250,000 or a minimum imprisonment term of up to five years or both. 

Laws has been set in place yet just last week, RM8.4 million worth of pangolins were seized by the authorities during a raid at a warehouse in Tamparuli, a town located barely an hours’ drive from the State capital. 

It was learnt that rescued pangolins that initially survived the ordeal were sent to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, but it was no promptly established if all the pangolins made it alive.

Immediately after that, another 23 pangolins were rescued during a road block operation at the Kemabong-Tenom Road. 

The live pangolins were found in nylon sacks in the rear bonnet of a car driven by a 40-year-old man from Lawas. 

This took place just days ahead as the State Government through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment prepares to launch the Sabah – World Pangolin Day which fell on Saturday (Feb 16). 

Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga said investigations are still underway following the seizure in Tamparuli, adding that there are procedures that they have to go through.  - Sherell Jeffrey 


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