By Marvin Augustine
Twin assault by planters and poachers is decimating Sabah’s wildlife at a faster rate than foreseen, claim activists in the state. Habitat destruction and illegal hunting contribute to dwindling sightings of Sabah’s endemic species in all of the state’s rainforests.
The rapid conversion of many fragile yet wildlife sustaining areas into oil palm plantations after decades of logging has pushed wildlife conservation in the state into a trendy activity.
Such has been the destruction that several international wildlife and environment protection groups have set up local branches to start conservation programmes that state has been slow to implement.
This has placed the spotlight squarely on the Sabah government and its role on wildlife conservation enforcement. The outcome of investigations into the fatal poisoning of 14 pygmy elephant earlier this year near the Gunung Rara forest reserve is a case in point.
Jane (not her real name) a young local environment activist who requested anonymity said: It seems even this horrific incident has failed to slow down the conversion of the forest to palm oil plantation. There has been no word about what happened let alone prosecution of any culprits.
“It’s like they (state authorities) have swept those elephants under the carpet. What does that say about their duties and responsibilities? It is giving the impression that someone big is behind this and is being protected. All these conferences they (state government officials) come out and speak about wildlife conservation are just media events to show they are concerned,” said Jane. She has a point.
The outspoken Sabah Environment Protection Association or Sepa, was not invited to attend the East and Southeast Asian Wild Animal Rescue Network (WARN) Conference as a participant. There top state officials spoke about the lack of enforcement and the open sale of bear parts in the city.
Until now, the state government investigation task force, set up after the 14 elephants were found dead near a forested area bordering an oil palm plantation, have failed to identify the culprits. A RM120,000 cash offer for information on the poisoning remains unclaimed. More....