KOTA KINABALU - An estate worker will spend a year in jail for attacking an orang utan in an oil palm plantation in Sandakan.
Magistrate Suhaila Selag found Syam bin Sul, 38, an Indonesian, guilty of stabbing and slashing the primate while on his way back from work on July 13.
Syam was charged under section 37 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, under which offenders could be fined a maximum of RM20,000 (S$8,400) or jailed up to two years or both.
During the hearing at the magistrate's court, Syam claimed that the orang utan had chased him and that he attacked it in self-defence.
The male orang utan was found in a critical condition more than a week later.
Named Gedau by his rescuers, the ape is being closely monitored by veterinarians at the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.
Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya urged plantation workers and their employers to avoid hurting wildlife.
"It was unfortunate that the worker chose to injure the orang utan when he could have easily outrun the animal if it was true that it was trying to chase him,"
"The penalty imposed by the court should be a reminder to would be offenders of the serious consequences of injuring protected animals, more so with a totally protected species such as the orang Utan,"
"To prevent future incidents such as this, all managers and owners of plantation should inform the wildlife officials if they come across protected species in their estates," said William.
He said plantation owners should also take the initiative to advise their foreign workers against hunting or injuring protected animals.
On Gedau's condition, he said some of the wounds were very deep.
"After a week of emergency treatment and monitoring, he was sedated once again yesterday," to further treat the wounds.
He said the orang utan's air sac, a loose pouch located around the throat suffered a slash wound, resulting in a severe infection.
"The air sac is used for vocalising," explained William, adding that the primate would be returned to the wild when fully recovered.