Malaysia: Sabah task force makes life hard for poachers

STEPHANIE LEE The Star 20 Dec 15;

KOTA KINABALU: Authorities in Sabah are breathing down the necks of poachers, with some being caught recently and jailed up to three years.

Various efforts have been drawn up to trace and catch offenders including the setting up of anti-poaching task force by the World Wide Fund (WWF) Malaysia.

The task force comprising wildlife officials and WWF members to work together to fight poaching was first set up for Lahad Datu in December last year while a second task force was established in Tawau last month.

The first task force has seen a number of joint anti-poaching exercises as well as the successful capture of four poachers in Ulu Segama Forest Reserve.

These culprits were actually caught in the act during a special joint operation led by the Assistant District Forestry officer, Augustine Alling and also forest rangers from the Ulu Segama-Malua District Forestry Office, with active participation from Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF-Malaysia on Sept 11.

The poachers were sentenced to 36 months in jail – the maximum jail sentence for illegal possession of sambar and barking deer carcasses, both which are protected animals here.

The second task force comprised enforcement agencies such as Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department, Yayasan Sabah, and Royal Malaysia Police, and assisted by WWF-Malaysia.

Through these task force also, a man was given the maximum fine of RM50, 000 or a year in jail by the Kota Kinabalu Sessions Court in November for possessing a clouded leopard.

The ruling was made by judge Ainul Shahrin Mohamad on Muhd Rizduan Ibrahim, 24, who was found guilty of possessing a Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi), a totally protected species in Sabah’s Wildlife Con­servation Enactment 1997.

Rizduan was arrested following a long period of monitoring and undercover works by the Sabah Wildlife Department after he was suspected of carrying out online sales of the species.

Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya said it was important to impose the maximum penalty in wildlife crime cases, especially if it involved a totally protected species.

Baya said it was also crucial for adequate resources to be made available to increase enforcement efforts and bring offenders to justice and reduce wildlife crime.

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