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SOS Rhino : In the News : Export of pygmy elephants is banned

Export of pygmy elephants is banned

  20 November, 2003
Daily Express News
Sabah, Malaysia

THE export of elephants, especially the rare pygmy elephant, has been banned with immediate effect.

Musa said the State Cabinet made the decision in response to calls from the public following last monthÍs disclosure that a dozen Borneo pygmy elephants were bound for zoos in China and Japan.

Many, including NGOs like the Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) as well as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) had objected to the move to ship the elephants out.

The Borneo pygmy elephant, endemic to Sabah, was just recently discovered to be genetically different from its main species. It is tamer and smaller and highly endangered since only some 2,000 of them are left in the wild.

Musa said the State Government was not aware of the move to export the 12 pygmy elephants to the two countries because he was made to understand that Kuala Lumpur had approved it.

"Last time, they got permission from Kuala Lumpur. Therefore, we request to the relevant authorities in Kuala Lumpur to inform us (Sabah) if there is such an approval," he said.

Speaking after chairing the Cabinet meeting at Wisma Innoprise here, Musa said he did know how many elephants were to be shipped out in all but that there were requests which, following the ban, would no longer be entertained.

"If it is an official government-to-government request, we could considerÉbut what is important is that no one is allowed to export elephants from Sabah at their whims and fancy," he said.

To a question, he said the State Government may also consider issuing export bans on other Sabah wildlife based on recommendations from the Wildlife Department.

"It is standard procedure that whatever animals to be taken out must have the approval of the State Wildlife Department," he said.