By S.M. Mohd Idris [Letter to Editor\
Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is irked by the silence maintained by the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry (NREM), the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Sabah Police and the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) regarding the death of the 14 pygmy elephants.
In Feb 2014 there were concerns over the missing female elephant cows believed to have been poisoned when their calves were found wandering and rescued from two plantations in Kinabatangan. Until now there have been no reports.
SAM is perturbed that such unexplained deaths of suspected poisoning has remained unsolved until today. As both the NRE and the Sabah Wildlife are responsible for safeguarding the country’s wildlife, they should not protect those responsible for the killing while at the same time ignoring the rights of wildlife species.
The especially gruesome circumstances of their deaths and the recent mystifying disappearances of two elephant cows in particular has sparked renewed calls from SAM for the release of the report of the investigation to be made public.
What is really needed is a competent investigation procedure to ensure those who commit crimes will be brought to book and it will serve as a deterrent. The whole enforcement chain must work together resulting in prosecutions, convictions and strong penalties to stop further poisoning and killing of these remarkable creatures that is unique and special.
NGOs and the public are craving for information and this expectation must be satisfied by the authorities responsible for the necessary action. The longer it lingers the credibility of the state’s authorities will continue to be challenged and viewed with suspicion over its feet dragging, silence and inaction. The authorities must not turn both a blind eye and deaf ear to any law-breaking by either the logging or palm oil industries and allow this heinous crime to go unpunished.
The Sabah government should probe further into the matter instead of hoping that the issue will be swept under the carpet for good. Are they not interested in knowing who the culprits are? It is in the interest of the public and NGOs that the case be resolved.
We have said it before and we will say it again. For those in authorities to continue with their lackadaisical attitude towards matters of life and death in the elephants’ own domain is to continue to let more elephants die in vain.
The authorities should do more to address their weaknesses due to increasing public expectations for accountability. Is there an investigation team to evaluate, investigate and determine the actual cause of the elephants’ death? Such crime must be addressed with the full force of the law.
SAM calls for justice and truth and the Sabah authorities should stop pandering to or legitimising such cruel killing practices as it only serves to encourage more plantation and logging companies to continue with such horrible killings due to greed by the corporate world
The writer is president, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)