KOTA KINABALU: WWF Malaysia has called for more funding for enforcement agencies such as the Sabah Wildlife Department to boost conservation efforts.
This is especially in view of the fact that overhunting and illegal wildlife trade remained a serious threat to conservation efforts.
WWF Malaysia executive director and chief executive Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the department should be strengthened by hiring more staff to carry out enforcement activities such as patrols and roadblocks.
The increasing number of arrests, successful prosecutions and heavy penalties imposed by courts would act as a strong deterrent to poachers and therefore reduce wildlife crimes, Dr Dionysius said.
To sustain this pressure on poachers and increase the enforcement efforts, he said it was crucial that adequate resources be made available to the enforcement agencies.
Dr Dionysius said global wildlife population had declined by 52% over the past 40 years.
He said Sabah was a state within the biodiversity-rich island of Borneo with numerous species of mammals, birds, reptiles and insects that had become the target of poachers.
“These animals have crucial roles in forest ecology and forest regeneration and are indicators of the environmental health of Sabah,” Dr Dionysius added.
Over the past month, the department had successfully prosecuted three people found to be in illegal possession of various wildlife.
On Nov 19, Sabahan Fedly Jinpin was fined RM12,000 by the Tawau magistrate’s court for possessing three dead red leaf monkeys, a Malay civet and 37.5kg of bearded pig meat that were hunted illegally.
Jinpin was caught at a routine roadblock check by the Sabah Wildlife Department's enforcement unit in Tawau on July 11.
The second case involved Philippine national Gabson Pindatun, who was fined RM15,000 by the same court on Nov 20 for possession of 72.4kg of hawksbill and green turtle meat and shells.
Gabson was caught with the turtle meat inside four gunny sacks in his boat by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in Pulau Siamil on Aug 9.
He could not pay the fine and was jailed 18 months in default.
Both Gabson and Jinpin pleaded guilty to charges.
In the third case, Johorean Carlvin Cher Jia Wei was fined RM10,000 on Nov 26 by the Beaufort magistrate’s court after he admitted to illegally possessing 10 pangolins.
He was caught having the pangolins in his car during a police roadblock on Oct 30.