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Time to stop hunting of pangolins: Masidi
Published on: Monday, January 18, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry is seriously considering upgrading and listing pangolins under Schedule One, Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997.Its Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said this measure should be taken as the nocturnal animal is one of the main targeted wildlife in the State because of its huge demand.

"It's high time for us to look into pangolins' status in the Wildlife Enactment," he said after launching HAUŚ Café, here, Sunday.

In a report on Friday, Sabah Wildlife Department Assistant Director Dr Senthilvel Nathan was quoted as saying that pangolins are currently listed in Part One of Schedule Two, Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997, which means that it can be hunted with a licence.

He said the species was under great threat in Sabah, suffering from trade, and urged the public not to buy wildlife from traffickers as it is encouraging the trade.

Masidi said the modus operandi of the traffickers is simple – they kill the pangolins and then process it into meat products.

"And if it's a meat product packed nicely, it's difficult to distinguish whether it is pangolin…that makes it easier for it to be smuggled.

"Furthermore, as the demand is huge, it motivates a lot of people to hunt for pangolins in the jungle," he said, recalling a case where law enforcers seized five tonnes of pangolin meat off Sandakan waters a few years ago.

The seized pangolin meat was worth more than RM3.9 million in the international market.

"It was really shocking. When you talked about five tonnes of pangolin meat, imagine the number of pangolins killed over a long period.

"In fact, I called my officers and gave them a piece of my mind. They told me they didn't know about it.

"The sellers are smart people, too, they know the movement of the Wildlife officers. They know when to deliver the meat."

Masidi further said the awareness level among the public on pangolins is still low.

"Unfortunately, pangolins are not something that is 'loveable'…it's just a longish-shaped animal and it's not 'cute'.

Perhaps that's why it's not something that can be liked by everybody.

"But we do hope that in time, we will embark on an education programme to talk about pangolin and also the risk of it being completely exhausted in Sabah. But of course in order to do that, I think education and enforcement has to be done simultaneously," he said.

In another development, Masidi said his Ministry is doing a rationalisation exercise due to the current economic situation.

"I have issued a reminder to all of my department heads to prepare for a rough ride for the next 12 months.

"We are cutting cost, for instance, in the tourism sector. If previously we would send two or three people to another country for marketing purposes, we will cut the number of people.

"The rationalisation exercise means that we are hoping for the same result but at a much lower cost and we are also working with the private sector where we can share the cost of promotion. This is one of the ways of doing things smartly."

Meanwhile, on the launching of the café, Masidi said the best way to help Sabahans who have just started their business, especially in the food and beverage line is by ensuring that "you don't expect freebies."

"You don't enter an outlet with the expectation of getting freebies just because you know the owner or the owner is your friend. If you want to help our people, I think we need to help them financially."



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