KOTA KINABALU: A RM10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest and successful conviction of those causing the death of 13 endangered Bornean Pygmy elephants at Yayasan Sabah Conservation area in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, Tawau.
The reward is offered by the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA) Sabah which said the death of the elephants, believed to be caused by poisoning, was a great loss to the state and tourism industry as viewing them in the wild was always the highlight of nature wildlife tours.
MATTA Sabah chairman KL Tan said Bornean elephants were small in numbers and found in isolated pockets and listed as endangered animals. They were indigenous to Borneo and their generic distinctiveness made them one of the highest priority population for Asian Elephants conservation.
“If the shocking death of the Bornean elephants is confirmed to have been due to intentional poisoning, MATTA Sabah would offer a cash reward of RM10,000 for information leading to successful conviction of the culprits,” he said in a statement yesterday.
He urged those with information to contact the joint task force directed by Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun and consisting of Sabah Wildlife Department, Forestry Department, Yayasan Sabah, WWF and Royal Malaysia Police.
“We urged the public to assist the task force to investigate the matter and to ensure there is no malicious intent on the innocent elephants.
“This cash reward is a positive indication of the travel industry involvement that we are serious in conservation and sustaining Sabah as an eco and wildlife destination,” Tan said.
“MATTA’s contribution is one of the proactive measures to express its interest to the community that we care and the need to protect the Bornean elephants and other endangered wildlife. Conservation of endangered wildlife is for the benefit of our future generation and sustaining tourism growth in Sabah,” he said.
Tan pointed out one of the key factors in Sabah’s flourishing tourism industry is its nature based tourism, which raked in an estimated RM5.178 billion in revenue with 2.8 million tourists in 2012.
The viewing of the Bornean elephants in Lower Kinabatangan, Tabin Wildlife Reserve and Danum Valley is one of the main attractions for UK, Europe, Japanese and Australian tourists to Sabah.
Tourism benefits the whole community due to its spin-off effects and so the community will all lose out if we are not united to conserve our wildlife heritage in Sabah.