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Wildlife protection an absolute for Sabah, Chief Minister issues stern warning to industries

Mohd Shafie Apdal. – SNT file pix

KOTA KINABALU: The Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal issued a stern warning to industries today that the protection of wildlife in Sabah is absolute. 

The statement was in reference to the recent killing and de-tusking of an endangered elephant in Sabah which was reported to have been facilitated by security guards employed by a plantation in the Tawau district.

News of the brutal killing where seventy (70) bullets were shot at the elephant has been reported widely in local and foreign media. The Chief Minister did not mince his words when he stated that:

“This selfish act for personal gain is hurting Sabah’s reputation as a responsible producer of timber and palm oil. 

“Sabah’s elephants are protected by state laws as a Totally Protected Species. The brutal killing of this one elephant in Tawau is a crime against our protected species. 

“I commend the police as well as the Sabah Wildlife Department for their swift action in apprehending the perpetrators. 

“However, it distresses me to find out that the perpetrators of this crime are employees of a plantation conglomerate. The sustainability of Sabah’s plantations will no doubt be tainted by this one act of cruelty for personal gain. 

“Plantation owners and smallholders have time and again been advised on handling such problems, including calling in the Wildlife Department to help carry out control of elephant-human conflict.

“To me, there is no excuse to kill. It should not have happened. I am told this is the first time  that elephant poachers have been arrested although such crime has been going on for years,” he said.

The Chief Minister stressed that wildlife in Sabah is as much a part of our natural capital as timber and palm oil. Sabah’s big three industries including tourism bring much needed revenue to the state.

Within state-owned GLCs like Sabah Softwoods in Tawau, extraordinary measures have been put in place to protect elephants at the cost of reduced earnings. These are the measures the government expects from private enterprises working in Sabah.

“Sabah and private industries have invested so much into wildlife conservation that I refuse to allow exceptions for rogue members of society to commit this crime not just against wildlife but also against Sabahans that depend on the export of sustainable timber and palm oil.

“I have ordered the police to conduct a full and complete investigation into this killing. For too long, criminals have exploited Sabah’s rich wildlife for the illegal trade. 

“Sabah will make an example of the perpetrators in custody to send a clear message to poachers; you will face the full force of the law that protects Sabah’s wildlife if you dare continue illegal activities.

“Let the message be clear to plantations and industries as well. Should there be reasonable doubt that companies have not done their due diligence in employing staff like these security guards under detention , the companies too, will face the force of law for having failed their obligations to educate their employees of their responsibilities,” Mohd Shafie added.

Mohd Shafie said he wants everyone, major plantations as well as smallholders to take every step necessary to protect the wildlife. All their staff must be properly briefed on standard operating procedures to handle wildlife-human conflict.

“The Bornean elephants are endangered …..we cannot and will not allow it to go extinct in Sabah,” the Chief Minister added. – SabahNewsToday