Fear of Sunda pangolin becoming extinct due to poaching

Fear of Sunda pangolin becoming extinct due to poaching

KOTA KINABALU: There is fear of the Sunda pangolin also known as the Malayan or Javan pangolin becoming extinct in Sabah due to illegal hunting of the mammal, said Sabah Wildlife Department (JHL) director Augustine Tuuga.

He said Sabah had been the focus of poachers and smugglers of the Sudan pangolins, which is scientifically known as Manis Javanica, resulting in the population of the animal in the state to shrink.

However, he could not provide accurate data on the number of the mammal in the state.

He said five arrest cases involving illegal hunting of the pangolins had been recorded since 2019.

“The statistics, however, do not show the real scenario of the number of arrests involving poachers of the pangolins because based on research, only 30 per cent of the criminals were caught,“ he told Bernama recently.

According to Augustine, pangolins are often hunted because they are a source of protein, and their scales are used in traditional medicine.

He said anyone found guilty of selling or buying pangolins could be fined between RM50,000 and RM250,000 , as well as jailed for up to five years and urged those with information on poaching activities to contact JHL either through social media platforms, the website www.wildlife.sabah.gov.my or call 088-215353 during office hours.

The Sunda pangolins are fully protected under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, like other wildlife such as the Orang Utans, bears, the Clouded Leopard (Harimau Dahan), Proboscis Monkeys, turtles and the Banteng, he said.

The Sunda pangolins are found in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

However, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there is no accurate data on the total population of the species, except Singapore which is estimated at 1,068.

Apart from the Sunda Pangolin, three other species of pangolins are found in Asia, namely the Chinese Pangolin (Manis pentadactyla); Indian Pangolin (Sweet crassicaudata) and Philippine Pangolin (Sweet culionensis), while in Africa there are the Giant Pangolins (Smutsia gigantae), White -bellied Pangolin (Phataginus tricuspis), Temminck Pangolin (Smutsia temminckii) and Black Belly Pangolin (Phataginus tetradactyla).

In 2008, the Sunda pangolin was classified as an endangered animal under the Red List of Threatened Species by IUCN, before the status was changed to critically endangered in 2014 following a 80 per cent decline in its population over a 21-year period.

According to the IUCN, a report in 2010 found that more than 22,000 Sunda Pangolins were illegally exported from Sabah between 2007 and 2009, while about 30 tonnes of the animals, including frozen ones, were seized by the state authorities in February 2019. – Bernama