KOTA KINABALU: The status of Sabah’s Bornean pygmy elephant will be upgraded to Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Totally Protected Animals under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 of the State.
Speaking during the closing ceremony of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium 2012 held at the Le Meridien here yesterday, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said his ministry had decided to upgrade the status of the species which is presently protected under Part 1 Schedule 2 of the same enactment.
The status upgrade was part of the objectives in the Sabah Elephant Action Plan 2012-2016, he said.
Masidi said that with the upgrade, the issue of the ‘no kill for elephant’ will not arise anymore.
“If you kill, you will go to jail. There is a requirement of a jail sentence. The penalty requires a jail sentence of between six months and five years,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu said that in the species present status, the penalty for killing an elephant is a fine of RM30,000 and/or imprisonment of three years.
He said that they had prosecuted a lot of cases involving the killing of elephants in Sabah.
However, he did not have the figure on hand.
He also said that prosecution was difficult as they needed concrete evidence before they could prosecute someone.
“Very often, they are not (prosecuted) and they get away scot-free. Evidence is hard to find,” he said.
He also said that most often, the ones found guilty of the crime were the workers of the plantation who were part of the plantation’s pest control unit.
The elephants, he said, are considered as pests in these plantations as they disturb the oil palm plants.
With the announcement from Masidi, Laurentius said that they would be writing the administrative paper and send this to the cabinet for endorsement.
Once it is endorsed, the department will then move ahead with the gazette which he said requires only the signature of their minister.
“The process is very short,” he said.