MPOC to Continue Funding Widlife Rescue Unit

Press Article from Borneo Today newspaper by Robert Hii

Datuk Mah Siew Keong Dr Sundram

COMMENT: The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) will continue to fund the Wildlife Rescue Unit in Sabah as their commitment to conservation in Malaysia.

This declaration comes at a time when wildlife in Sabah is facing increasing pressure as evidenced by the confiscation of elephant tusks and the discovery of dead elephants as well as the shocking 8000 kilos of pangolin scales shipment bound for China.

While the role of the Wildlife Rescue Unit in Sabah has been mainly to mitigate human and wildlife conflicts, especially with the beloved elephants of Borneo, these recent incidences confirm that the Wildlife Rescue Unit has known for a while, that a sharp increase in enforcement is needed as a proactive move to save protected wildlife before they become a mere confiscation of their body parts at Customs.


Although the original role of the Wildlife Rescue Unit is to save wild animals from harm as Sabah continues to develop, its rangers with their presence on the ground in Sabah represent an opportunity to fight the trade in illegal wildlife in Sabah.

An informal assessment of the current threats faced by wildlife in the state showed clearly that the rescue of wildlife in human-wildlife conflicts was only a part of the greater need for Sabah’s wild animals. If Sabah is to protect its wildlife, the WRU is best suited to take on an expanded role in enforcing the laws governing protected wildlife and educating local communities that engage in hunting for meat as a traditional means of survival.

The role of the WRU limits it to the occasional road block to seek out illegal bushmeat being transported. This may be a deterrent to some sellers of illegal bushmeat but the extreme traders in illegal bushmeat have shown that this will not stop them.

What is needed is the identification of these extreme traders and their accomplices in the local markets which can be done by incognito visits to the local markets by WRU rangers.

More importantly, Sabah legislation pertaining to illegal bushmeat sales and consumption must be changed to adopt Masidi Manjun’s (Masidi is Sabah’s minister of Tourism and Environment) recent suggestion.

In order to successfully prosecute traders and sellers of illegal bushmeat, the onus of innocence should be placed on those caught selling illegal bushmeat instead of the current system where prosecutors have to find evidence of wrong doing for successful prosecution.

Wru Rescue


The support of the MPOC for the WRU and other conservation activities including the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary shows that the oil palm industry in Malaysia recognizes the need for wildlife conservation as an integral part of sustainability.

As the industry works towards the certification of Malaysian palm oil under the nationwide scheme, Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) scheme, its support of wildlife conservation in Sabah will reflect strongly on its ambitious goal of jurisdictional certification which will be a big component in conservation efforts nationwide.

As Mah Siew Keong, Minister of Plantations and Industries puts it in a tweet from his personal Twitter account, “Orangutans is our shared responsibility.”

• Robert Hii is a Sarawak-born Canadian Conservationist who through his NGO Friends Of Borneo help In Wildlife Conservation Programs in Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan

Article published on 17 October 2017

To read the original online version please follow this link.  Please note there are some graphic images.