RM8.4mil live pangolins, animal parts seized in KK, Tuaran
Published on: Sunday, February 10, 2019

TUARAN: Police and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) have nailed a syndicate allegedly processing and smuggling pangolin meat and skin for the past seven years from a factory and warehouse here and in Sepanggar.

The Kota Kinabalu and Tuaran Police Headquarters’ Crime Investigation Divisions (CID) together with officers from SWD also seized dozens of live pangolins, hundreds of frozen ones, pangolin scales and thousands of boxes containing the animal’s meat estimated at RM8.4 million, last Thursday.

Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said a team of officers and personnel from the Kota Kinabalu CID and SWD raided a factory at Jalan Sepanggar, after receiving a tip-off.

“From our surveillance and raid, we arrested a 35-year-old local inside the plant and found processed and frozen meat believed to be from pangolins in six freezers,” he told a press conference, Saturday.

“We also found several live pangolins in cages and 10 sacks containing pangolin skins.

“An inspection of a Proton Persona car found 35 live pangolins in its boot and two plastic sacks containing pangolin scales and a digital weighing scale.”

Also present during the media conference was SWD Director Augustine Tuuga and city police chief ACP Habibi Majinji.

After an interrogation, the suspect led the authorities to a warehouse in Kampung Bontoi on the Tamparuli-Ranau road, which they raided later that day.

“The raiding party found three containers full of boxes of the pangolin meat. All the seizures involved 61 live pangolins and scales weighing 361kg,” he said.

“Also found were 1,860 boxes of frozen pangolin meat each weighing 15kg and worth RM300. We also found two bear legs and four frozen carcasses suspected to be of large flying foxes.

“The suspect and seized goods were taken to Tuaran police headquarters for investigation. The total seizure is estimated at almost RM8.4 million and is the biggest success.”

He said investigations revealed the suspect arrested was the manager of the factory believed to have been operating since seven years ago.

“The suspect allegedly bought all the pangolins caught by local illegal hunters across Sabah and were gathered before they were sent to the factory to be processed and packed into boxes,” he said.

“Investigations also found all these pangolins were meant for the local market, Sarawak and possibly for export as well.

“Investigations are still ongoing to detect other individuals involved in the syndicate including hunters. The case is being investigated under Section 41 (1) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.”.

Augustine said his department has yet to conduct a thorough survey on the population of the animal throughout the State.

“So far, we only conducted surveys or studies in the Kinabatangan area as its population was low and found only in certain areas where poachers were hunting,” he said.

“At the same time, we have upgraded the status of pangolins from Schedule 2 to Schedule 1 (totally protected species).”

Pangolins a crucial in controlling the termite population in the jungle. Termites cause millions of ringgit losses to building owners yearly, especially those made from timber or have wood components. - R. Gonzales


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