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SOS Rhino : In the News : Citizen wardensí to help curb poaching

Citizen wardensí to help curb poaching


04 May, 2003

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Wildlife Department has endorsed a regulation to allow a selected group of people to make “citizen arrests” on poachers who threaten the wildlife in the State for their own gains.

Its Director Mahadi Andau said such a move is in line with the newly enacted Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 that contains provisions that could help address some of the wildlife conservation problems in the State.

He said this during a recent presentation of letters of appointment to 40 volunteers selected as “honorary wardens” to maintain a close surveillance on the security of the State’s exotic flora and fauna species that are on the “endangered list”.

Mahadi pointed out that the appointment of honorary wildlife wardens was to assist the department enforce the Wildlife Conservation Enactment.

The wardens will be issued with an authorisation card, which they must produce when conducting enforcement operations.

As an authorised officer under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment, an honorary wildlife warden is empowered to:

* Stop and search any vehicle or boat if they have reasons to believe that an offence has been committed or to conduct inspection to determine if an offence has been committed;

* Arrest without warrant any person who has committed a wildlife offence if that person fails to provide personal identification, and

* Request any person to produce the licence that is required under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment for any activity related to wildlife.

The other important features of the new legislation include:

* Adoption of the CITES Convention (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora).

* Provisions for the creation of different categories of protected areas - Wildlife Sanctuary, Wildlife Conservation Area and Wildlife Hunting area * Heavier penalties for various wildlife offences.

Under the new legislation, wildlife species critically endangered are accorded the highest protection status.

These include rhinoceros, marine turtles, orang-utan, bear, clouded leopard, tembadau, proboscis monkey and dugong.

Those found guilty of hunting fully protected species face a heavy penalty under this new legislation.

According to Mahadi, Sabah is well endowed with more than 200 mammal species and over 500 species of birds.

“ We have every reason to be proud owners of this natural heritage and, therefore, have every right to be involved in their protection and conservation against wanton killing,” he said.

He described the wildlife resource as a very important asset that can be utilised in a manner that ensures its perpetual benefits.

“ Our wildlife areas are collecting revenue for the Government and at the same time providing business opportunities for private entrepreneurs involved in eco-tourism and other service-related businesses.

“ That would be motivation for us to work harder to conserve and manage the wildlife of Sabah,” he said.

Mahadi also pointed out that more than 60% of Sabah’s population lives in the rural areas, with more than 20% (about half a million people) being identified as hardcore poor.

For most of these people, hunting is of cultural importance and certainly an important livelihood factor, he said.

“ Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that hunting becomes regulated and sustainable.

“ It is important that fully protected species are not hunted and that game species are hunted according to sustainable quotas set by the Government.

“ In this way, bio-diversity would be managed as a natural capital stock, which, when managed the right way, would yield in perpetuity a wide range of direct and indirect economic benefits to the human population,” said Mahidi.

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