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Sayang Sabah - Berita Negeri Kita

WORKSHOP OUTLINES STEPS TO PROTECT PANGOLINS, INCLUDES NEED FOR A CABINET PAPER

workshop

KOTA KINABALU – Urgency over the future of the Sunda pangolin has prompted the setting

up of the Sabah Pangolin Conservation Working Group, which is looking at several immediate

steps including preparing a Cabinet paper to propose that the species be listed as Totally

Protected under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

The nocturnal animal is currently listed in Part One of Schedule Two, which means that it can be

hunted with a license, and upgrading its status to Schedule One will accord it full protection.

Sabah Wildlife Department Assistant Director, Dr Sen Nathan said, participants at a recent

workshop to discuss the fate of pangolins had unanimously agreed that the matter has to

be brought to the attention of the State Cabinet, and that the animal must be accorded full

protection, given rampant poaching.

“Under its current listing, a hunting license can be issued to hunt pangolins. Although no hunting

license has ever been issued, we are aware based on our own reports and those acquired from

other parties that pangolins are poached.

“The newly formed Working Group’s suggestion to elevate the status of the pangolin to that of a

Totally Protected species will hopefully deter poachers. Maybe some are unaware of legislation

to protect certain species, and we hope that if this Cabinet paper goes through, poachers will

stop their activities,” he said.

The Working Group was set up at the end of a daylong workshop involving the relevant

government agencies, NGOs, research organizations and an oil palm company.

The inaugural workshop held on August 21 was jointly organised by the Sabah Wildlife

Department and Danau Girang Field Centre, with funding from Lush Cosmetics.

Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) Director, Dr. Benoit Goossens said, other next steps include

starting an awareness campaign, apart from working closely with the soon to be established

Wildlife Enforcement Unit, a joint initiative between DGFC and the Department.

“The long term goal which covers a period of between two to five years would be to decrease

poaching and trade of pangolins, increase ecological and population studies and to look at the

possibility of setting up a sanctuary to rehabilitate pangolins.

“The workshop we organised was much needed, and we agreed that we also need to learn

more about pangolins in Sabah. Based on current information, the biggest threat comes from

illegal hunting for the international trade, and another would be threat from habitat loss and

fragmentation – but more research and data is needed,” he said in a Press release jointly issued

with the Sabah Wildlife Department.

Goossens pointed out that according to a 2010 report by wildlife monitoring network TRAFFIC,

some 22,200 pangolins were killed between May 2007 and January 2009 to supply one

syndicate, with most coming from the districts of Keningau, Kota Belud, Kota Marudu and

Ranau.

“As a biologist, I find it hard to believe so many pangolins were killed in Sabah over less than

two years. Pangolins must be coming from other places, with Sabah serving as a place for the

animal to transit before being further distributed,” he said.

He said several workshop participants reported that there seemed to be less pangolins in

plantations nowadays compared to five years ago, based on their observation as part of their

regular wildlife monitoring work.

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