Borneo elephants now classified as totally protected species

Posted on January 11, 2012. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

The Star/Asia News Network
Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia – Those who kill Borneo elephants will now face a mandatory jail term as part of Sabah’s efforts to upgrade its conservation of the animal.

State Tourism, Culture and En­­vironment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the elephant was classified as a totally protected species under its wildlife laws.

“This means that as far as our elephants are concerned, if you kill, you go to jail,” he said when closing a wildlife conference here yesterday.

The conference was jointly organised by the state’s Wildlife Depart­ment and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.

Under the totally protected classification, those convicted of killing the animals will be liable for a mandatory jail term of up to five years.

Previously, those convicted of killing these animals, which were listed only as protected, were liable to a fine of up to RM30,000 (S$12,339) or three years in default or both.

Masidi said the state was also finalising its draft of a request to the Federal Government to amend the Fisheries Act to prohibit the hunting of sharks in Malaysian waters.

“We hope that with such changes, we won’t see the sale of shark’s fin in this country soon,” he added.

On concerns that the state’s agricultural sector was impacting the environment, Masidi said: “We know we are blessed with an abundance of natural assets and we are determined to protect them.

“But Sabah, too, has its peculiarities and among these is that we are dependent on agriculture to eradicate poverty.

“So, you can criticise us but please see our side of the story, too.”

Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife De­­partment director Laurentius Ambu said among the consensus reached at the conference, which was atten­ded by conservationists and oil palm industry representatives, was the need to push zero tolerance for wildlife killing.

“If companies would make it clear to their staff that they would be fired if they were found to be killing wildlife illegally, this could be a highly effective tool,” said Laurentius, adding that such an approach should be taken for protected species.

He said participants also highlighted the need for the maintenance of forest corridors in plantations.

“If such corridors no longer exist, these should be re-established wherever possible. It is, however, recognised that corridor establishment is expensive and challenging, and needs to be done together with other management tools,” he added.


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