Published on: Friday, February 01, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the discovery of another dead elephant brings the total number of pygmy elephants found dead to 14.
"Late last night officers of the Wildlife Department and the special task force that have been sent to comb the jungles of the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, about 130km from Tawau, found the remains of yet another dead Borneo pygmy elephant which was believed to have died two weeks ago.
"This figure is too high for us in Sabah because the number of these elephants are not many to begin with, as we estimate in the area there are only 1,000 such elephants.
"The many deaths of these animals represent a stunning blow and a horrible nightmare for those of us who tried our very best to look after and protect these animals.
"In order to emphasise the urgency on the investigation work, I have asked my ministry's permanent secretary to lead the task force.
"I was also informed by the Director of the Wildlife Department that the Tawau police have also sent a senior officer to participate in this investigation to ensure that the guilty parties are apprehended and brought to justice if it is true that there was foul play."
He said this at the launching of the Japanese Food Fair 2013 by Woo Joo Food Sdn Bhd at 1Borneo, here, Thursday.
Masidi also took the opportunity to thank the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Sabah for offering RM10,000 as a reward to anyone who can furnish information that can lead to a conviction of the culprits if foul play is confirmed.
"I welcome this effort from Matta. It is not about the money but more out of a sense of responsibility of all of us in the State."
Masidi said he would like to remind Sabahans that the people of the State are the real owners of these elephants which are a totally protected species since early January this year.
"It is also my hope that the public will continue to provide tip-offs if they hear or see anyone intending to hunt or have information that can bring to the arrest and conviction of those involved.
"I am always open and everyone knows my handphone number and my office number. If you are reluctant to report to the Wildlife Department officers, they can contact me directly or Facebook and tweet me directly."
"Laws and enforcement of the law is important but what is more important is for every Sabahan to realise that it is their property, it belongs to them and it is incumbent of Sabahans to look after these elephants.
"It is our responsibility to take care of them. We can have the best and the highest numbers of enforcement officers but if we don't feel they belong to us, then I don't think we can do it effectively. "
On whether any punitive actions such as revocation of lands of guilty individuals or landowners (in the case of plantations) if they were found guilty of being behind the deaths, Masidi said there were already ample laws to deal with this.
"All I can assure you is that we will take action (against the guilty parties) without fear or favour regardless of who is responsible."
Meanwhile, Masidi said the launching of the Japanese food fair served not only to educate consumers about food but also educate the people on the benefits of Japanese food.
He noted the Japanese are well known for longevity and this has been based on studies which have linked this phenomenon to their diet.
"We find that an emphasis on freshness is one of the hallmarks of Japanese food and also a diet that is low in the use of oil. Another factor is the eating habits of the Japanese who do not eat until they are full.
"So these are the factors that contribute toward why the Japanese tend to be healthier than othersÉhope this Japanese food and cooking exhibition will assist Sabahans towards leading a more healthier lifestyle from a diet standpoint."