KOTA KINABALU - An illegal immigrant was jailed for poaching endangered sea turtles while a local was slapped with a heavy fine for illegal hunting of protected animals by the court.
As Sabah Wildlife Department stepped up its enforcement against wildlife meat trade and poaching, a magistrate's court in Tawau slapped Filipino Gabson Pindatun, 30, with a RM15,000 (S$5830) fine in default 18-month imprisonment for possession of 72.4kg of marine turtle meat and shell.
Gabson, who was caught with the turtle meat inside four gunny sacks by Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in Pulau Siamil on Aug 9, was sent to Tawau prison as he failed to pay the fine imposed by Magistrate Harith Mazlan.
In an unrelated case yesterday, Fedly Jinpin, 37, a local, was fined RM12,000 in default five months' jail by Magistrate Farhan Shah Fareme Mohd Firaus for having three dead red leaf monkeys, a civet cat and 37.5kg of wild boar meat that were hunted illegally.
Jinpin was caught with the items in his car during a routine roadblock check by the Sabah Wildlife Department's enforcement unit in Tawau on July 11. He paid the fine.
Both Gabson and Jinpin pleaded guilty to charges under section 41(4) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 fine or five years' imprisonment.
Sabah Wildlife Department deputy director Augustine Tuuga said the court ruling was a clear and firm message to illegal poachers and bush meat dealers.
"Poachers should be ready to face the consequences of the law if they continue to carry out such illegal activities," Tuuga said.
He said wildlife enforcement units had stepped up their operations in all illegal hunting hotspots in Sabah, including Kinabatangan, Tawau, Sandakan, Lahad Datu and also Sipitang area.
"We will also be doubling our efforts in monitoring the restaurants serving exotic meats. Mini zoos caught flouting their permits will not be spared as well," he said.
Tuuga said anyone with any information regarding crimes against wildlife can contact the 24-hour hotline at 012-801 9289.