Friday, May 22, 2009

More checking stations to deter poachers

Published on: Thursday, May 21, 2009 in Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: The Forestry Department has deployed more field staff to man Forest Checking Stations (FCS) built at vulnerable points of entry, including "mouse trails" built by poachers.

This follows a vicious attack by poachers against Forestry staff at the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve.

Standard Operational Procedures (SOP) will be implemented in the near future to deal with similar situations.

However, Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan said:

"SOP on security is best undisclosed. Whatever the case, better security has now been provided to ensure the safety of field staff on patrols and during static duty.

"The SOP has always been there, but has now been upgraded for better security and to restore confidence.

"Paramilitary police, or PGA personnel, have been stationed on a permanent basis at the entrance and at the base camp on a rotational basis.

This is now a permanent deployment. The PGA forces now also accompany forestry staff on patrols in the reserve," he said.

Mannan also added that:

"Simultaneously, the department has employed armed security personnel stationed at the base camp. We've also applied for a gun licence for protection during operations and surveillance of field staff at specific localities."

Following the assault on district Forestry Officer Indra Sunjoto, police have arrested a number of suspects for investigation and two have been charged in court.

Mannan said he is "shocked and angry that the poachers would resort to such extreme and violent means. This has not happened before."

Mannan denied that Indra was in a coma.

"He regained consciousness after a while. He went through a thorough medical examination and so serious injuries were found. Apart from shock and gash on his head, he is okay. This is a miracle," he said.

Mannan also confirmed that the clouded leopards, deers and elephants have been shot by poachers. He said that no more than 10 endangered species were targeted by poachers.

In April, district Forestry Officer Indra Sunjoto was repeatedly beaten up when a group of some 20 armed men attacked the base camp at Ulu Segama Malua forest reserve.

He suffered a cut on his head which required stitches and subsequent medical specialist treatment.

Other staff members who tried to help Indra were threatened with bodily harm by the intruders.

In the attack on the base camp, which lasted for one hour, the assailants, armed with machetes, samurai swords, brass knuckles, Rambo knives, and hockey sticks, among others, also damaged the department's cars, carted away food from the workers' quarters and several motorcycles.

It was believed that the assault was meant to injure Indra, or perhaps kill him.

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