Malaysia: Poachers breach forest reserves

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 7 Dec 13;

ILLEGAL TRADE: Wildlife study cameras in Sabah catch them in the act

KOTA KINABALU: ILLEGAL hunters are prowling even protected forests in Sabah.

Poachers have been found to be encroaching crucial sites, such as the Crocker Range National Park, Tawau Hills National Park, Maliau Basin Conservation Area, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Malua BioBank and Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Footage of their activities was caught by camera traps set up at specific locations by the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) for wildlife study purposes.

Describing the hunting within forest reserves as serious, DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens stressed on the need for the government and relevant agencies to sit down and tackle the problem.

"It is paramount that the millions of ringgit invested in our protected forests are used for wildlife protection and enforcement against wildlife trade and poaching.

"Shall we wait for another iconic species, such as the Sumatran rhino, to disappear in Sabah before reacting?"

Speaking at the recent Wild Animal Rescue Network (Warn) conference, Goossens said a report by the trade monitoring network, Traffic, revealed that 22,200 pangolins were traded in the state by syndicates within 13 months.

The figure was derived from logbooks seized by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) from syndicates in 2009.

The report also revealed that eight of 21 shops surveyed in 2010 sold bear bile products, while 10 of 24 shops sold similar products last year.

SWD director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the department would look into setting up an enforcement unit to tackle wildlife trade and illegal hunters.

"This unit will focus on wildlife trade, illegal hunting and bushmeat trade, using the best tools against wildlife smuggling and poaching.

"It will have a permanent presence in all protected areas in Sabah.

"We are looking for institutions keen on supporting the unit."

More than 100 wildlife experts participated in the two-day conference, organised by SWD and DGFC.

Among the participating countries were India, China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Warn is a network of wild animal rescue centres, wildlife law enforcement groups and officials, and animal protection groups in East and Southeast Asia.

The conference was aimed at boosting the capabilities of East and Southeast Asian wildlife rescue centres to rescue and conserve wildlife and providing conservation awareness education for the public, as well as advocating minimum standards practised by wildlife rescue centres.

SWD assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said Warn would bring Asian countries together in matters pertaining to wildlife conservation and assist government authorities in each country to monitor illegal wildlife trade.

Sabah to ensure wildlife safety
The Star 8 Dec 13;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department will set up an enforcement unit following reports of illegal poaching activities at pristine conservation areas including the Maliau Basin and Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the Wildlife Enforcement Unit would work in a similar way with the Wildlife Rescue Unit, but would focus on wildlife trade, illegal hunting and bush meat trade.

“Our aim is to deploy the best existing tools against wildlife smuggling and poaching and having a permanent presence in all protected areas in Sabah.

“We are looking for institutions interested to support this unit,” he said yesterday.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said Sabah would use all means to stop illegal hunting and the sale of protected animal species’ parts.

“We might seem to have lost many battles, but I can assure you, the buck stops here and the war for wildlife conservation is being fought hard by a very dedicated group of people in Sabah in whom I place all my trust,’’ he added.

At the Fifth East and Southeast Asian Wild Animal Rescue Network (WARN) conference held in Tuaran on Nov 26 and Nov 27, wildlife researchers reported that there was ample evidence of illegal hunting in several forest reserves and national parks in Sabah.

These included iconic areas such as the Crocker Range National Park, Tawau Hills National Park, Maliau Basin Conservation Area and Tabin Wildlife Reserve.

Other affected conservation areas include the Malua Bio Bank and Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

“This is extremely serious and the state government, NGOs and research institutions need to tackle this issue as quickly as possible if we don’t want to see our wildlife ending up in bowls and as medicinal products,” said wildlife research NGO Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goosens.

Conference delegates were also briefed about recent data from surveys carried out by wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic on pangolin and sun bear bile trade.

“The results were astonishing. Out of 21 shops visited in December 2010 in Kota Kinabalu, eight were selling bear bile products,” Goosens said.

In a survey carried out in Sabah last year, 10 out of 24 shops surveyed were found to be selling sun bear products.

Goosens said a Traffic report published in 2010 on pangolin trade in Sabah, including an analysis on trade syndicate’s logbooks seized in 2009, showed that 22,200 pangolins were traded by the syndicate in 13 months.