Poaching suspects turn aggressive on Forestry staff

KOTA KINABALU: Suspected poachers rammed two Forestry Department vehicles and check-point gate at Gunung Rara-Kalabakan Forest Reserves.

Chief Conservator of Forests, Datuk Dam Mannan said based on public informationlm, a group of 20 Forestry personnel from the Protect Team, led by monitoring officer, Ismailey Ismail, laid an ambush at Gunung Rara-Kalabakan Forest Reserve, on December 29 to apprehend a vehicle, believed to be carrying suspected poachers.

At 6.30 pm the same day, he said the suspect vehicle arrived and rammed two Forestry vehicles at site and drove through the gate, damaging it badly. The suspects also nearly ran over two Forestry personnel.

Upon being chased, the suspects tried to escape by throwing materials they carried on board, including tyres, containers, parts of animals, cangkuls etc, towards the chasing Forestry vehicles.

“Elephant Bombs”, a type of explosive used to scare away elephants, and a restricted product, were also hurled towards the Forestry vehicles, but did not explode, he disclosed in a statement yesterday.

Despite the chase, Mannan said the especially modified vehicle of the suspected poachers escaped through tracks that cannot be used by ordinary vehicles.

The police were informed in Tawau and reports lodged accordingly by the enforcement team the same evening.

Police arrested a 51-year-old man and his 25-year-old son the next day for further investigation under various laws. They have been remanded for seven days.

District police chief ACP Fadil bin Hj Marsus said both the local suspects were arrested at Lot 9 Blok 31, Jalan Quinn Hill about 10.30am.

The police had also seized a Toyota Single Cab, he said, adding that the man was a businessman while his son was jobless.

Fadil said a 39-year-old complainant, who is also the chief supervisor of Sabah Forestry Department, reported that a Toyota Single Cab had rammed into a roadblock mounted by 10 personnel at Gate B, Empayar Kejora, Jalan Luasong Keramat, Tawau about 5pm on December 29 when they asked it to stop for inspection.

He said the suspect reversed the vehicle and collided with two of the department’s vehicles before fleeing.

The forestry personnel chased after the suspects, while the suspect who was sitting in front threw several objects like tyres, torchlight, spanner and clothes, Fadil said, adding the suspects managed to escape but detained later.

Fadil said the police would investigate the case under Section 353 of the Penal Code, he added.

Mannan added as this was not merely a case that is covered by the Forest Enactment 1968 and Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1998, and which also involves other laws such as the Penal Code etc., the case is handled by the police for further action.

“We thank the OCPD of Tawau and his men for their swift and effective actions, and pray that these dangerous and aggressive suspects, will receive proper actions and due justice,” said Mannan.

He said the Forestry Department was shocked to see this increasing trend of violence amongst poachers, far worse than that ever encountered with illegal loggers, who normally do not fight back.

“We thank the public for their tip-off that led to the arrests,” he said.

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