Published on: Saturday, February 09, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Forestry Director Datuk Sam Manan said the problem of wildlife-human conflicts in Sabah might never be eliminated, so it is important that preparatory and mitigating steps are taken against its worst effects.
He said in the context of Sabah the fact that at the broader landscape level, whereby some 1.3 million hectares (20 per cent of Sabah) have been set aside for totally protected status (TPAS), was a good start.
It exceeded the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) standard of 10 per cent.
Sam said the case of the 14 elephants found in a most tragic situation, in Gunong Rara Forest Reserve, virtually in the centre of Sabah, was a heart-wrenching story, which no doubt touched the souls of all rationale human beings.
"This should not have happened - whether it was accidental, due to negligence, a natural cause or worst of all, a possible barbaric act, planned or executed by unsound minds - if you like, psychopaths," he said.
"As the matter is being ably investigated by the police, with help from all relevant authorities, I shall not pre-empt the findings, as I do not know.
"What I would like to say nevertheless is since the grieving, expression of emotions, anger and all natural human reactions have been expressed, including a lot of crying here in Malaysia and in the global community, and in my opinion, with full measure and with sincerity, let us for a moment focus, on the other side of our mental faculty - rationality, as emotions have had a field day," he said.
Sam said the judgement had been made with finger being pointed at the oil palm industry and, in particular, the agro-forestry plantations of Yayasan Sabah, not far from the graveyards of the elephants.
"Apparently, through unveiled insinuations, Yayasan Sabah poisoned the 14 elephants because their oil palm plantations were being destroyed and being nearest to the scene.
"This conclusion has been drawn, even though the investigation has not been concluded. To make things worse, 'officers' from Sabah were quoted, which adds credence to mere speculation. Judge, Jury and Prosecutor all in one - or three-in-one.
"Now if Sabah's own officials, for motives only known to themselves, can make such accusations, why would the world not believe them?
The death of the elephants is bad enough.
"But the posting of a baby elephant photo trying to nudge its dead mother is sick behaviour - milking emotions dry for what gain?
This has attracted so much global attention that even the Prime Minister and Chief Minister are receiving 'blog petitions' that is close to 100,000 hits.
"Suddenly, Sabah is in the world map for the wrong reasons," he said, adding that there were already calls for boycotting palm oil from Sabah, advertised in reputable international magazines on the web.
"Loose tongues can kill obviously. But what is the true story on oil palms?" he asked.