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State Government mulls stiffer penalties on wildlife-related crimes

KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment is prepared to amend and further tighten the penalties for wildlife-related crimes under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 if it is found that hunting of the Borneon Pygmy elephant and other protected species is still uncurbable.

Minister Datuk Christina Liew stressed this in her winding-up speech on the State Budget 2020 for her Ministry on Wednesday night.

Datuk Christina Liew. SNT File Pix

“In 2016, the Enactment was amended to increase the fine penalty and jail sentence imposed on convicted offenders under Schedule 1 Wildlife for fully protected species, including the Pygmy elephant, that is, a minimum fine of not less than RM50,000.00 up to RM250,000.00, and imprisonment of not less than one year up to five years,” she said.

Liew, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, was responding to the Paginatan Assemblyman who suggested that the Government consider amending the Enactment by incorporating a ’employee/employer are liable’ provision to address the incidence of elephant deaths in areas around agricultural plantations.

On Tanjung Batu Assemblywoman’s proposal for the establishment of a wildlife park in Kalabakan, the Minister said her Ministry has not made any such proposal yet. “However, if there is any private sector interested in investing in the setting up and management of a wildlife park there, my Ministry is ready to consider the proposition.”

Liew said the recent killing of several elephants would not dampen the spirits of the Government to continue doing its level best to preserve and protect the mammals. “On the contrary, the State Government through my Ministry will implement all measures underlined in the 10-Year Elephant Management Action Plan beginning next year (2020-2030).”

The Minister reiterated that efforts to protect the elephant from seemingly ceaseless killing require the cooperation of all stakeholders. Towards this end, she pointed out, the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) will continue to engage with all parties concerned, especially the farming community who presently face the human-elephant conflict.

“It is imperative that while we strive to reduce the losses resulting from damage to crops by elephants seeking food, at the same time the onus is on us to protect the animals from being injured or killed,” she told the Assembly. – SabahNewsToday