Rajalinggam also ordered Armil, a Suluk, and Arcamsar, a Visaya, to be repatriated to the Philippines upon their release, in an unprecedented first court verdict of its kind on Feb 12 over the killing of a Totally Protected Species in Sabah.
The offence carries a mandatory jail term of not less than one year and a maximum of five years.
The punitive mandatory jail term signals escalated official action to protect Sabah's wildlife and environment through legal means, as Sabah's stunning wildlife and natural endowment is deemed the pillar and root cause of the State's dramatic surge in tourist arrivals in recent years.
The duo, brought to the court under Section 25(3A) and 37 of the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997, pleaded guilty to two separate charges of hunting and causing grievous hurt to the orang-utan which later died from its injuries.
State Wildlife Department's Prosecuting Officer, Karim Dakog, said the accused tied the orang-utan to a nylon rope apparently with the intention of drowning it but the animal became aggressive and broke loose after biting the rope off with it teeth and staged a fight.
In turn, Armil and Arcamsar picked up a parang and slashed the animal and evidently hit the orang-utan with a brunt object on the back of its head, which apparently delivered the fatal blow, as a post-mortem conducted by department vet Dr Rosa Sipangkul found a "very severe haemorrhage in the brain is definitely proof that the animal was beaten," besides a lot of bruises on the body, slash wounds confirmed to be inflicted by a parang and a nearly severed right thumb, all showing intention to kill, veterinarian and Assistant Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Dr Sen Nathan, said.
Still, the orang-utan managed to climb up a tree but fell to the ground and found dead near a beach later.
Although the accused argued they killed the orang-utan out of revenge, eyewitness statements say they wanted to eat it. The mystery is where did the orang-utan come from, since the area is surrounded by purely oil palm, mused Director of Sabah Wildlife Department, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu.
"But I must thank the Civil Defence personnel who tipped us off which led to this successful prosecution, the police and also the court for this unprecedented case," Laurentius said.
"It dispels accusations by overseas NGOs that Sabah does not prosecute wildlife offenders," Laurentius said.
"We appeal to the public to cooperate with the SWD and report any criminal activity against wildlife and so long as we have enough evidence and proof, we can act," Laurentius said.
Besides the orang-utan, other animals on the Totally Protected Species include the clouded leopard, sun bear, pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhino, green turtle, hawksbill turtle, false gharial, proboscis monkey, tambatau banteng and the dugong, Laurentius said.
Meanwhile, Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun warned that his Ministry will "use the full force of the law" to protect Sabah's precious wildlife.
"We will show no mercy to anyone causing any harm to our Totally Protected and Endangered Species," he said.
"Sabah is blessed with some of God's wonderful species and it is our moral duty to protect them," he said.