KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department is investigating claims that sea turtles have been killed recently to supply tourists’ demand for exotic meats in Sabah.
However, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun stressed that no evidence had been uncovered regarding the latest allegation.
“There could be illegal supply of exotic meats and we are trying to look into the allegations,” he said.
“There are even allegations that say with the influx of tourists, there has also been an increase in the number of turtles and wildlife killed.
“So there is a theory that it may have been for the purpose of providing exotic food for some tourists but that is one area that we are still investigating. At this point of time, it is just a theory,” he emphasized after the state-level Warriors’ Day celebration at the Likas Sports Complex here yesterday.
Masidi added that when it comes to the recent incident, the ministry is mulling a suggestion to turn Facebook photo upload enthusiasts into Honorary Wildlife Wardens.
“We have actually considered about asking them to identify the real person so that we can offer them to become an honorary warden over the wildlife,” said Masidi.
“There are a couple of them, Facebookers, who seem to have all of the evidence before we get it. So perhaps it is high time we appoint them as honorary wardens so they are in a way under obligation to help us solve the problem,” he added.
Recently, a team from the State Wildlife Department found hundreds of bones from dead sea turtle carcasses were found scattered in some bushes on Pulau Bum Bum off Semporna.
The team were investigating a report about dead sea turtles being spotted on a beach on the island when they made the discovery near Kampung Pantau-Pantau, Kampung Amboh-Amboh and Kampung Sampolan on the island.
Meanwhile, a 60-year-old suspect was arrested in Kampung Pantau-Pantau, Bum-Bum island, Semporna in connection with turtle poaching.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga yesterday said that a remand warrant was obtained from the Semporna Magistrate’s Court to remand the suspect for five days for investigation.
“The Wildlife Department is continuing the search for the other identified suspects in the days to come. The search is to cover several islands in Semporna waters,” he said.
“Meanwhile, investigation is continuing on the killing of a male elephant in Kinabatangan. The search for the crime scene was done along the river by boat and on land by car. Inspection along Sungai Koyah near the site where the elephant carcass was found floating didn’t detect any sign of elephant footprint which means that the elephant did not come from the area,” disclosed Augustine.
He said that information was also gathered from the public on the killing and that several suspects have been identified. The department is continuing its investigation.