Enforcement lacking (Malaysia)
January 11, 2017
Kristy Nus, New Straits Times Online

Recently, a Sabah Wildlife Department veterinarian said it may be time for the state to initiate an elephant breeding programme — and look into the possibility of taking them outside the state. 

Dr Pakeeyaraj Nagalingam of the department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit said “it was no longer safe for our elephants to remain here”. 
“This may seem outrageous but we simply can’t afford to wait and lose more elephants in Sabah, or they will definitely share the same bleak future as our rhinoceros,” he told the New Straits Times. 
The wildlife specialist said this following the killing of two Borneo pygmy elephants for their ivory near the Kawag forest reserve in Kinabatangan, believed to be committed by professional poachers. Their deed was obvious from the way they left the carcasses behind. 
The carcass of one elephant named Sabre — because of its downward pointing tusks — that was rescued and relocated to the forest reserve last August, was found on New Year’s Eve and it was too decomposed for a full post-mortem. The carcass of the other elephant, aged 40 years, which was found on Dec 27, was fresh. It was believed to have been killed within the last 24 hours. Both elephants had bullet holes in their heads. 
Sabre, which was fitted with a satellite collar to monitor its movements, was believed to have been killed on Nov 21. “We thought the collar had dropped off the animal. After a few attempts, the collar was located on the morning of Dec 31 with Sabre’s skeletal remains. “The tusks were removed using a chainsaw. It was shocking as we don’t normally face problems of elephants being hunted down for their tusks here in Sabah,” said Pakeeyaraj. 
With an estimated 1,500 elephants left in Borneo, and only 22 currently collared, it made sense for him to highlight concerns over the conservation of this endangered species. “We will never have enough manpower to curb poachers. I think the Wildlife Department should work with the Forestry Department and other government bodies to get more people on the ground. “The honorary wildlife warden programme has yielded many passionate people who are willing to help, provided the department is there to lead. 
“Previous news coverage did make Sabre a famous elephant (when it was rescued and relocated to Kawag forest reserve), but whether that made him a target, I doubt it. “For, as long as our male elephants are walking in our forests with grown tusks, they will be targeted.” 
While the department is offering a RM10,000 reward for catching the culprits responsible for the jumbos’ killings, Pakeeyaraj believed that weak enforcement would make poachers more daring. Their ivory is estimated to be worth around US$1,500 to US$3,000 (RM6,600 to RM13,200) per kilogramme in the black market. “Short-term efforts need to be combined with enforcement. We need to put a stop to all poaching in our forests. We need to mount roadblocks and conduct on-the-ground monitoring of forests to ensure that poaching is not active,” he said. 
While enforcement is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed, the awareness of wildlife conservation needs to be promoted to ensure success in the long run. While people recognise elephants as wildlife that needs protection, other smaller and lesser-known species may be ignored. 
A recent chat with an American volunteer, who is here to assist in the study of the slow loris and tarsier at the Danau Girang Field Centre in Kinabatangan, revealed that not much information is known about these primates to ensure conservation and protection of their habitat. 
Kyle Hendrikson, who previously studied baboons in Nigeria, said many were probably not aware that these creatures were wildlife and should not be kept as pets. “Slow lorises and tarsiers are solitary and nocturnal. It is hard to observe their behaviour, and hence, there is a lot of misunderstanding around them. 
“In general, the environment and landscape changes in Borneo over the last 20 years also have had an impact on these wildlife, where some have resulted in human conflict due to fragmented forests. “The wildlife needs to adapt to be able to survive, and we have to study to understand their situation,” said Hendrikson.