Deer meat seized in crackdown on illegal wildlife trade

KOTA KINABALU - Sabah wildlife officers raided a tamu (weekly farmers' market) in the interior Nabawan district and seized some 160kg of deer meat in its crackdown on illegal traders and poachers in the state.

Three people were caught while three others gave the enforcers the slip as the wildlife rangers cracked down on the tamu, about 200km from here, following a tip-off yesterday.

Keningau wildlife department officer Benedict Jani said that of the seized venison, 145kg was that of the sambar deer and 15kg was that of the barking deer.

One of the traders selling the meat without valid permits tried to stop the enforcement officers from taking away his wares but was overpowered and nabbed along with two others. Three others managed to flee.

"The Nabawan district has become a hotspot for the sale of illegal bushmeat in recent years due to the vast road networks, all the way to Tawau," Benedict said.

He said the department had been clamping down on such activities in recent months, adding that 10 cases were pending prosecution.

Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said samples of the confiscated meat would be sent to its newly opened wildlife health, genetic and forensic laboratory for genetic analysis to see if there were viruses or bacteria that could be hazardous to human health.

Meanwhile, state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun ordered the Sabah wildlife department to go all out to address the issue of wildlife poaching and trading and to slap the fullest extent of the law against those involved.

"The war on illegal wildlife trade and poaching has just begun. Be ready to go to jail," Masidi said after the seizures.