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Dept needs new approach
Published on: Sunday, January 08, 2017

WITHIN a space of two months, two Pygmy elephants were found dead in Tawau.

It was reported the endangered species were slaughtered for its sabre-like tusks by poachers.

The efforts by the Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit to halt the trafficking of ivory tusk have its limitations.

This is because little is known about the criminal networks behind poaching in the state and animal conservation is becoming a futile exercise.

Enforcement officials have not been able to crack the criminal syndicates believed to be behind the illegal trade.

The worrisome issue is that the Pygmy elephant population is only limited to between 1,500 and 2,000 in Sabah.

In 2013, 14 Pygmy elephants were found dead near Gunung Rara, poisoned by poachers.

Last September, a group of elephants were stuck in a mud pool in Rinukut for a week.

Five elephants were found dead while two others were euthanised as they had become too weak, dehydrated and blind.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment assistant minister Datuk Pang Nyuk Ming said the Sabah Wildlife Department had been ordered to conduct an in-depth investigation into the matter and submit a report.

The report would also contain details on matters which contributed to the incident and action to be taken to prevent recurrence. Pang said the incident indicated that there was a lot of room for improvement in the conservation of wildlife, especially pygmy elephants, in the state.

The Sabah Wildlife Department should have more sophisticated equipment, such as night-vision goggles and helicopters, to crush poachers and the international criminal syndicates.

The government with its resources, should invest into animal conservation as tourism and the good name of the country is at stake.

We don t want to be known for poor animal conservation in the eyes of the world.

The government should make it a priority to win the war against poachers before Pygmy elephants are wiped out from Sabah. The fate of the species hangs in the balance.


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