KOTA KINABALU - Two foreigners were jailed four years for hunting and hurting an orang utan, a totally protected species, which later died.
Armil Gundil and Arcamsar Amil, both Filipino construction workers at a plantation here, pleaded guilty to slashing the 15-year-old male orang utan with a parang and tying it up with a nylon string at Sahabat 3, Felda Sahabat in Tungku, Lahad Datu, on Jan 29.
Both were jailed 30 months for hunting the animal and 18 months for hurting it.
The charges were under the Sabah Wildlife Enactment 1997.
Judge M. Rajalinggam meted out the landmark decision at the Lahad Datu Sessions Court on Wednesday and ordered the jail term to run consecutively.
Sabah Wildlife Department prosecuting officer Karim Dakog said the two men had claimed that they wanted to "exact revenge" by killing the orang utan but witnesses said the two men were planning to eat the protected animal.
Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said members of the Civil Defence Department informed the department about the orang utan being kept by the two men.
"I immediately directed our enforcement team to investigate," he said, adding that the two men were arrested and the badly injured orang utan was rescued.
The department's veterinarian Dr Sen Nathan said post-mortem findings showed the cause of death was malicious in nature.
"There were a lot of bruises on the body which indicated that the animal was badly beaten. There was also severe haemorrhage in the brain," said Sen, who is also the department's assistant director.
The court's decision was a testament that the state government supports the full force of the law to protect the wildlife, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.
"We will show no mercy to anyone causing harm to our totally protected and endangered species.
"Sabah is blessed with some of God's wonderful creatures and it is our moral duty to protect them," Masidi said.