One of the more recent cases where a female Banteng was shot by poachers in the vicinity of Maliau Basin last October 2017.
Photo: Danau Girang Field Centre

Malaysia: VIPs, managers among poachers
By Kan Yaw Chong, 1st December 2017;

The future of Sabah’s Banteng (Bos javanicus) or wild cattle has reached a “critical” situation, says Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) Deputy Director Peter Malin.

“Given an average of four gunned down per month in the State by poachers and Sabah has only an estimated 316 Banteng left, the only fitting words to describe it is we have a critical situation,” he said.

He was speaking at the two-day Bornean Banteng International Workshop and Conference here Thursday, representing SWD Director Augustine Tuuga, where all speakers from across Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Sabah reported a decline of the Banteng populations.

“Sabah is left with no other choice but do something to control and reduce the killings or else the fate of our Banteng will be heading towards the same as our Sumatran Rhino (Dicerorhinus sumatraensis),” said Indra Sunjoto, Deputy Director of the Sabah Forest Department, who spoke on “Challenges of managing Banteng in commercial forests in Sabah.”

All speakers, from Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of Danau Girang Field Centre, to Iman Sapari of Kalimantan, Naris Bhumpakphan of Thailand, Prum Sovana of Cambodia and veteran researcher Ramesh Boonratana, cited poaching as the main culprit behind the decline.

In the course of his research dating back to the past, Boonratana said he found VIPs were among the pack of hunters who were contributing to its possible extinction.

“This fact is hard to take because they are supposed to set an example,” Boonratana noted.

At a press conference, Guest of Honour and Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Sam Mannan, who launched the workshop earlier, said among the poachers were “people of high ranking in the oil palm industry and managers of plantations.”

“It couldn’t have been anybody else because they have their typical planters’ uniforms – shorts and high socks,” he told reporters.

“You see how difficult and how hard it is, and how embarrassing it is like RSPO,” he added.

“We wrote to RSPO and advised them: You warn your people who are certified and people who are with you that this is happening,” said Mannan, who noted the deteriorating poaching menace even within protected forests has forced the Forestry Department to take a direct role in prosecuting poachers caught in the act in a twin approach with the Wildlife Department to catch and put illegal hunters behind bars.

“We will start first where it will make a difference,” Mannan said

Asked what that meant, he said: “We will go where it all started first – Lahad Datu, Tabin, some parts of Kalabakan, south of Maliau, then the highway in Sapulut down to Tawau, especially the point where you enter Maliau Basin and then smaller cases in the northern area usually done by kampung people and Sipitang, etc.”

On what will make the difference this time around, Mannan said the authorities have mooted the idea of a specialised team of rangers to look solely into wildlife protection aspects, including data and intelligence collection and surveillance analysing and prosecution.

“They will be armed and work on shifts. They don’t do anything but 24-hour surveillance. We will give them guns.

It’s not necessarily to shoot people, more for warnings, but if things get heated, they have to be able to protect themselves,” he said.

“In the past, the same people looked after illegal felling, do forest restoration, do anti-poaching and so on, they were not focused. It doesn’t work but now they are focused, say five people in one vehicle and they do nothing else except go after poachers,” he added.

Mannan said the idea is still at the proposed stage, but added that the elite rangers would be under the Wildlife Enforcement Unit if accepted.

“A better effect sought would be deterrence,” said Boonratana.

Dr Goossens said plans are afoot to vastly improve surveillance, detective, software and hardware to analyse camera trap pictures and information gathered which will be able to pinpoint the whereabouts accurately and send enforcement teams to go to places that are very likely to catch the poachers.

“There is now that willingness to do what it takes such as increase the protection with 50 more forestry rangers who are mobile and focused only on wildlife,” noted Dr Goossens.

“It is very critical that we have a surveillance intelligence gathering, we will provide the training because information gathered need to be analysed so that enforcement teams will be able to go to places that are very likely will catch the poachers. Otherwise, we are sending rangers running around wasting time for nothing,” Goossens said.

Goossens said he agreed urgent work must begin now to avert another disaster like what befell Sabah’s Sumatran Rhino.

“Basically we have increased some of the populations like those in Sipitang, Sugut, etc, which don’t have enough numbers to survive the long term and even if there is no poaching, they go down.

So we need to supplement those populations and a captive breeding programme would be a solution to provide those animals,” Goossens told the media.

“We don’t want to end up with a situation like that of the Rhino where in 20 years we realise we have only 10 individuals left and only then suddenly do a captive program too late,” he explained.

“So with the Banteng, we want to start now and that’s going to be something we want to discuss in the workshop Friday (Nov 31) exactly what is the best way to do it and then together with the support of the Forestry Department, start a programme as soon as possible.”

Source: Daily Express

One of the more recent cases where a female Banteng was shot by poachers in the vicinity of Maliau Basin last October 2017.
Photo: Danau Girang Field Centre

Malaysia: Investigation ongoing into last week’s slaughter of Bornean Banteng
By Olivia Miwil, 1st December 2017;

The Sabah Wildlife Department has carried out an investigation into the shocking killing last week of three endangered Bornean Banteng (Bos javanicus.

Its director Augustine Tuuga said the investigation team went to the ground to collect evidence on the case.

On Thursday, the Sabah Forestry Department disclosed that a plantation manager may be the culprit behind the poaching of one of the animals in October.

The manager was identified in a seized photograph in which he is seen posing with a Banteng carcass.

The three killings occurred in the Maliau basin, Sipitang and the Tabin conservation and forest reserve areas.

“The Maliau basin is a restricted area and not anyone can go there.

"It could (also) be that some villagers had gone into the forest… but there is no evidence of poaching or meat when we conducted checks at their houses,” he said when contacted.

So far this year, four Banteng have been killed. It is estimated that around 12 Banteng are slaughtered every year.

To date, no Banteng poacher has been prosecuted due to lack of evidence, Augustine said.

The Banteng is a “totally protected species” and there are fewer than 400 left in Sabah.

Source: New Straits Times

One of the more recent cases where a female Banteng was shot by poachers in the vicinity of Maliau Basin last October 2017.
Photo: Danau Girang Field Centre

Malaysia: Estate Manager in Lahad Datu chief suspect in Sabah poaching incident
1st December 2017;

A senior manager of a plantation company based in Lahad Datu is believed to be key suspect of a poaching syndicate operating in the east coast of Sabah.

The man’s latest conquest was the killing of a Banteng (Bos javanicus) in the protected Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu last month, and his dastardly act also proved to be his undoing as he has since been transferred out to Sarawak.

That is not all, as the authorities are looking at legal action against the culprit, said to be from a certain ethnic group that most would not expect to be involved in poaching.

Sam Mannan, the Chief Conservator of Forests, Sabah, said he could not reveal more as the case was still under investigation.

“There will be a prosecution,” was all he said at the Bornean Banteng International Workshop and Conference held here on Thursday.

Mannan did not mince his words when he rebuked the actions of poachers and said it was an “embarrassment” to the people with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

“We had warned them that this was happening. The people in peninsular Malaysia like beef, and there is an emerging market of exotic meat; therefore, these Banteng meat and payau (Sambar) (Rusa unicolor) or local deer, are in demand,” he said.

The poaching of the endangered and totally protected species of wild cattle, also known as as tembadau locally, was ironically carried out during the recent Heart of Borneo (HoB) conference.

It was one of three Banteng poaching cases that were recorded over three days in three different areas – the other two being the Maliau Basin and Sipitang Forest Reserve.

All three cases are unrelated.

According to Mannan, the suspect was identified through photographs with a carcass of the Banteng that he downed with a high powered rifle at Tabin.

“We have focused in on one person, but this one person could lead us to so much more information,” he said, adding the hunters were not local villagers but outsiders who either killed for sport or trade.

According to Mannan, the rising demand for Banteng meat in Peninsular Malaysia is one reason for the high incidence of poaching the Banteng.

He said the initial investigation has led them to believe that the meat was not meant for own consumption but to meet demand for exotic meat in Peninsular Malaysia.

Earlier, Benoit Goossens, the Danau Girang field centre director told the conference there were three Banteng poaching incidents at the three different protected areas here were carried out by poachers carrying sophisticated guns and were wearing proper gear.

He said since an estimated 70 per cent of poaching went unrecorded, this meant that as many as a dozen Banteng may be killed each year.

“With only a population of fewer than 400, this (12) is a massive number. Many herds live in small pockets of isolation and they cannot afford to lose a single individual.

"At that rate of poaching, the species will not survive another 20 years and we will lose it like we lost our Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatraensis,” he said.

The Banteng is the second most endangered animal in Sabah after the Rhinos and the Wildlife Department has classified it as a totally protected animal.

Source: Borneo Today

One of the more recent cases where a female Banteng was shot by poachers in the vicinity of Maliau Basin last October 2017.
Photo: Danau Girang Field Centre

Malaysia: Plantation manager behind one of Banteng shootings, says Sabah Forestry Department
By Kristy Inus, 30th November 2017;

Sabah Forestry Department has identified a plantation manager as a suspect behind the killing of one of the three Bornean Banteng (Bos javanicus last month.

Its chief forest conservator Datuk Sam Mannan in revealing this today said the man was also believed to be involved in the selling of the meat for the Peninsular Malaysia market.

He said with an estimate of less than 400 Bantengs left in Sabah, the species, also known as Tembadau, is the most endangered large mammal in this state and currently listed under the Totally Protected Species.

Authorities had recently revealed that the three killings in October happened at Maliau, Sipitang and Tabin conservation or forest reserve areas. It was learnt that the plantation manager has been identified in one of the photographs seized, where he posed with a Banteng carcass.

“It is no longer a suspicion because we have nabbed the individual… There will be a prosecution later… So this is still under investigation and we believe the person can provide more information,

"We expect more (individuals) from within this (oil palm) industry,” said Sam, after opening the Bornean Banteng international workshop to discuss the conservation of the species.

He described their actions as an “embarrassment” to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) initiative.

Sam added that the department was also looking for a foreigner, who acted as a ‘scout’ for the poachers.

Meanwhile, Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) research and training facility director Dr Benoit Goossens said to shoot a Banteng, one would require a sophisticated firearm with special bullets.

He said this year, four Banteng killings have been identified, but cases were estimated to average around 12 annually including those that went unreported.

“As for transporting or sending it to the Peninsular market, it was easy because the culprits can just put the Banteng meat in cooler boxes and authorities, thinking it to be buffalo meat will just let them through,” he explained.

As for the setting up of a dedicated wildlife enforcement team to face poachers as announced by the department previously, Benoit said a crime analyst would beneficial for the squad.

"Information gathered needed to be analysed, so the enforcement team can go to places they can likely catch the poachers,” he added.

Goossens said due to the limited population of Banteng in Sabah, a captive breeding programme is also being discussed in the workshop.

“We need to increase population for example at Sipitang or Sugut reserves areas where there are not enough individuals to survive there even without poaching.

"We need to start the captive breeding programme from now and the target is not to lose anymore numbers… or else the species will suffer the same fate like the Sumatran Rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatraensis) 20 years down the road.” he stressed.

Source: New Straits Times

One of the more recent cases where a female Banteng was shot by poachers in the vicinity of Maliau Basin last October 2017.
Photo: Danau Girang Field Centre

Malaysia: Plantation manager in Sabah unmasked as poacher
30th November 2017;

A senior plantation manager has been identified as a suspect behind one of three Banteng (Bos javanicus) killings last month, and of selling the meat for consumption in peninsular Malaysia.

Sabah Forestry Department director Datuk Sam Mannan said that the suspect was identified through photographs with a carcass of the wild cattle that is known locally as tembadau, an endangered and totally protected species in Sabah.

“We have identified more suspects within this industry. It cannot be anyone else, they belong to a certain ethnic group that we would not expect to be involved in this kind of hunting,” he said.

“We have focused in on one person, but this one person could lead us to so much more information. We will know soon, there will be a prosecution, he said.

Mannan said he could not reveal more as the case was still under investigation.

However, he rebuked the actions of poachers and said it was an "embarrassment” to the people with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

“We had warned them that this was happening. The people in peninsular Malaysia like beef, and there is an emerging market of exotic meat; therefore, these Banteng meat and payau (Sambar) (Rusa unicolor) or local deer, are in demand,” he said.

He was speaking at the Bornean Banteng International Workshop and Conference.

Mannan said they knew the hunters were not villagers who did so as part of their local customs, but outsiders who either killed for sport or trade. He also did not know if the guns used were licensed and registered.

Earlier, Danau Girang field centre director Benoit Goossens told the conference there were three Banteng poaching incidents in three different protected areas here — Maliau Basin, Sipitang forest reserve and Tabin Wildlife reserve — in just three days.

"They were carrying sophisticated guns and were wearing proper gear, so you know they are city people,” he said.

He said since an estimated 70 per cent of poaching went unrecorded, this meant that as many as a dozen Banteng may be killed each year.

“With only a population of fewer than 400, this (12) is a massive number. Many herds live in small pockets of isolation and they cannot afford to lose a single individual.

"At that rate of poaching, the species will not survive another 20 years and we will lose it like we lost our Sumatran Rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatraensis),” he said.

Source: Malay Mail