KOTA KINABALU, Sept 9 — The Sabah government conceded today it has a problem in putting a stop to the illegal hunt of wildlife for game meat.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the problem needed a multi-prong approach to be effective, after photos of illegally hunted wildboar, payau and binturong circulated on social media.
“We are not hiding that we are not doing well in this area. We are trying for a non-violent approach. We want to work with community leaders and continuously engage them them. This specific problem needs different approaches other than just enforcement,” he said.
Masidi said the Sabah Wildlife Department has since last year engaged all elected representatives as honorary wildlife wardens to get the involvement of the community leaders up, but have not received much feedback.
“I’d also like to know why,” he said when asked on the lack of response.
Local hunters have reportedly been defensive and aggressive when approached by both enforcement officers and concerned members of the public, with some even threatening bodily harm.
“They say it’s their culture to hunt. But the problem is, in the old days they hunted out of necessity and for their own consumption. Now, it is getting to be for commercial gain, gathering from the sale of it in the local tamu,” he said, referring to Sabah’s local communities open markets.
The most recent batch of photos show chopped parts of wild boar and payau — a local species of deer — and binturong — a wild cat, allegedly taken in the the interior district of Sapulot.
Previously, Nabawan and Keningau were a hotbed of getting local bush meat during tamu days due to the road accessibility from the east coast of Tawau.
It is believed that bush meat sold in the local markets could possibly be illegally hunted in the protected areas of the Maliau Basin or forest reserves in Tawau and Lahad Datu.
Sabah’s wildlife has been under stress due to a number of reasons, from habitat loss due to forest clearing, fragmented forests to wildlife trafficking.