Malaysia: Sabah Dept keen to know origin of tusks found on Indonesia woman

The Star 22 Jan 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Wildlife Department is keen to know the origin of the five elephant tusks recovered from an Indonesian woman believed to be heading from Tawau to Nunukan, Indonesia.

Although it could not be certain whether the elephant tusks were from recently killed jumbos in Sabah, wildlife authorities here are hoping to help Indonesia to verify their origin through DNA tests.

The tusks were found hidden in the woman’s bag on Jan 13. They were spotted through an x-ray machine.

Indonesian Customs, Immigra­tion and Quarantine officials let her off after she told them that the tusks did not belong to her and that she was just asked to carry them as marriage dowry.

No details were available about who gave them to her.

Indonesian workers usually go home via Tawau to Nunukan.

“We have contacted Indonesia’s CITES Management Authority about the matter through the assistance of Traffic South-East Asia,” Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said.

“We will wait for the outcome of their investigation,” he added.

Conservationists here suspected the tusks could be from three endangered Pygmy elephants which died between October and December last year.

They could also be from the rare sabre-tusked elephant of which the skeletal remains were found on Dec 31, in the Segama area of Kinaba­tangan district.

DNA tests needed to determine origin of elephant tusks seized in North Kalimantan: Sabah Wildlife Dept
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 21 Jan 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Further investigations are needed to determine if the elephant tusks seized by Indonesian authorities a week ago in North Kalimantan belonged to the two pygmy elephants killed in Sabah last month.

State Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said this today, following an Indonesian media reports that officials had stopped a woman carrying five pieces of elephant tusks in Nunukan, North Kalimantan, a week ago.

The reports said the tusks were believed to be from Malaysia.

Officials at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine station at Nunukan however released the woman but the tusks, valued at Rp 100 million (RM33,200), have been seized and sent to higher authorities in Tarakan.

“So far, we don't know exactly where the tusks could have come from.

“It can only be ascertained when the Indonesian wildlife authorities had taken a statement from the person or conduct a DNA analysis to compare them with the specimens of animals killed in Sabah,” he said in a statement.

Augustine added that he hoped the Indonesian authorities would conduct a thorough investigation into the case.

Last month, Sabah Wildlife and Danau Girang Field Centre had discovered two elephant carcasses, found 1.5 kilometres apart, were slaughtered for their ivory near a forest reserve in Kinabatangan.

The state had also offered RM10,000 reward to those who could assist the department in catching the culprits responsible for the killing.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun had also said the government would mull for less publicity on unique wildlife. He added the publicity on one of the elephants, including ‘sabre’, the rare pygmy elephant with downward tusks might have attract poachers to the state.

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