Hunt for turtle poachers in east coast
KOTA KINABALU: Turtle poachers are now the ones being hunted as the Sabah Wildlife Enforcement Unit continues its operation in Sabah's east coast.
According to Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Augustine Tuuga in a statement yesterday, the unit launched its operation to hunt for turtle poachers in Semporna since last month.
And the operation had now moved inland, he said.
"Last Sunday (November 12), the team raided a restaurant at Mile 2, Jalan Bulbul, Semporna. Meat of suspected protected species was found being kept in the restaurant's freezers. These are suspected to be bearded pig, flying fox, civet and pangolin," he said.
Further inspection at the premises found two live monitor lizards and two live reticulated pythons, listed under protected species, kept in cages, he said.
As the result of the finding, the local owner of the restaurant is being investigated under Section 41(2) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
Meanwhile, on Nov 13, the unit conducted a roadblock along the Tawau-Kalabakan road where it detained a lorry driver and a passenger, aged 60 and 61 respectively for possessing suspected deer meat in their vehicle without a permit.
They were investigated under the same section of the enactment, said Augustine.
He said that the lorry was travelling to Tawau from Kalabakan.
During the same roadblock, a 34-year-old driver of a four-wheeldrive vehicle was also detained for possessing deer meat in his vehicle.
The driver was bound for Kalabakan.
Recently, hundreds of bones from dead sea turtle carcasses were found scattered in some bushes on Pulau Bum Bum off Semporna.
Augustine had said that initial investigations revealed that the turtles may have been poached by the Bajau Laut or Pala'u community, sea gypsies who roam the seas, as they have been seen in the areas previously.
Sabah has also recorded several cases of mass dead turtles washing up onto its shores, including two incidents in early 2014 where 60 carcasses were found in the Pulau Tiga waters off Kudat, while another four at Pulau Bum-Bum.
In March 2015, authorities again discovered 19 green turtle carcasses in Pulau Tiga waters that were believed to be the result of a failed attempt to smuggle the animals alive.
The suspected deer meat at the back of the lorry.