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Dept denies NGO's claim
Published on: Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga refuted claims by a netizen group calling itself "Sabah Wildlife Watchers" that Bushmeat trade is still rampant in the district of Nabawan. "These accusations are completely baseless as my Wildlife Officers and Rangers based in Kota Kinabalu and Keningau have been monitoring the Tamu in Nabawan for the past few months without any incidents that contravened the wildlife law.

"All traders selling the wild meat have all the necessary permits. We make sure they also hang these permits in their stalls so our rangers can make sure that no bushmeat is sold illegally" said Augustine.

"During the latest inspection on last Saturday's tamu in Nabawan, we did not encounter any traders selling wildlife meat which was not indicated in their permits. We have even erected a signage reminding them of the wildlife laws" added Tuuga.

He suggested that the NGO concerned to report to the Department directly if it has proof that bushmeat are being traded in this tamu for appropriate action.

"Going to the press will not bring these alleged perpetrators to justice," he said.

Wildlife Watchers of Sabah claimed that availability of bush meat is continuing in Nabawan despite the assurances.

A spokesperson for the group said this in reference to a Daily Express report dated October 1 entitled "Win-Win solution on bush meat" where Tuuga, was quoted as saying they have managed to persuade hunters to apply for the licences so they could sell animals like deer or wild boar and all of them are now licensed to only trade among themselves and not outsiders.

"Basically in a nutshell, the Director was saying that they had managed to solve the illegal wildlife poaching and trade issues that have plagued Nabawan for years.

"Thus with cautious anticipation of this very good news for wildlife conservation, we decided to visit the Nabawan Tamu to see for ourselves how factual was the Wildlife Department's report.

"Dreadfully to our horror it was brisk business as usual at Nabawan Tamu with a multitude of many different species of wildlife being sold, including barking deer, binturongs, civet cats and even porcupines," he said.

Wildlife Watchers of Sabah said besides that, there were so many stalls selling wild boar and deer meat without any documentation or permits, which they should lawfully show at their stalls.

"Moreover, contrary to what the director mentioned, saying that trade of this bush meat was only among themselves, is totally inaccurate and false.

"Our supporters who drove all the way from Kota Kinabalu managed to purchase the meat very easily from the sellers.

In fact, stall owners were jostling among themselves to attract costumers."

Wildlife Watchers of Sabah said if the department is not able to tackle those issues and continues to show ineffectiveness to carry out their duties, they then suggest that the department hand over their responsibility to the Forestry Department which in recent months seem to be having fantastic success in their enforcement duties, including the fight to get rid of poaching and illegal wildlife trade in Sabah, with the setting up of their anti-wildlife poaching "Special Force Team" and also their K9 unit very recently.

Wildlife Watchers of Sabah also took the opportunity to congratulate Forestry Director, Datuk Sam Mannan, for leading the fight and giving some hope to wildlife in Sabah.



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