Sunday, February 28

Elephant tusks believed from Sabah

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KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) has contacted the Indonesian CITES Management Authority about the elephants tusks that were taken from a woman in Nunukan, North Kalimantan a week ago.

The five pieces of tusks were believed to be from Sabah, a news portal reported.

SWD director Augustine Tuuga when commenting on the report said that the department did not know exactly where the tusks came from.

It can only be ascertained when statement from the person who carried them was taken by Indonesian wildlife authorities or DNA analysis can be done and compared to the specimens of the animals killed in Sabah, he said.

“We just pray that the Indonesian wildlife authorities will conduct a thorough investigation into the case.We already contacted the Indonesian CITES Management Authority regarding the matter through the assistance of Traffic Southeast Asia. We just wait for the outcome of their investigation. They may contact us if they need our assistance,” he added.

The online portal which quoted Indonesian press reports as saying that officials stopped a woman carrying five pieces of elephant tusks in Nunukan, North Kalimantan, a week ago.

Though the reports mentioned (country) Malaysia, the tusks are believed to be from Sabah.     Officials at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine station at Nunukan let her go as her reason was that she did not own the items but was just entrusted to carry it.

The nationality of the woman was not disclosed but the tusks have been seized and sent to higher authorities in Tarakan.

KOMPAS, the Indonesian news portal that first published the report said the woman who was heading to Flores had said that the tusks were from Malaysia and that they were meant to be used as a dowry.

The tusks were found hidden in the woman’s bag as it passed through Indonesian Customs x-ray machine and Indonesian authorities valued the contraband at RM33,000 (or Rp 100 million).

The incident was said to have taken place at 2pm on January 13 when officials spotted longish items among the clothes in the bag, as the woman passed through Customs on her forward destination to Flores.

An official said that under existing laws, those who were found with tusks could be jailed for up to three years and fined Rp150 million.

Coincidentally, two rare Pygmy Elephants were found killed by poachers close to the Segama River in November and December last year for their tusks.