KOTA KINABALU: Two organisations have contributed RM10,000 each to the original RM10,000 reward by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) for the capture of poachers who shot dead a pygmy elephant for its tusks in Kalabakan last week.
With that, the cash reward has now increased to RM30,000 for anyone who can provide information that will lead to the successful arrest and prosecution of the suspects.
Yesterday, SWD offered RM10,000 while another RM10,000 was topped up by an anonymous contributor.
Today, Orangutan Appeal UK (OUAK) founder and chairperson Sue Sherward offered to raise the reward after she heard about it from SWD assistant director Dr Sen Nathan, two days after arriving at the state capital.
"(Dr Sen) who conducted the post-mortem with his team was devastated, saying that in his 25 years of working with wildlife, he had never come across such act of cruelty," she said in a statement.
Sherward said she had made a pledge last year to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal to assist the state government in conservation activities in Sabah.
"This is the right thing to do, and I hope more Malaysians can step up and assist in capturing those cruel elephant poachers," she added.
On Sept 25, a group of anglers discovered an elephant carcass at Sungai Udin riverbank and shared some photos on social media.
Following that, SWD officers were despatched to conduct investigations and found the male elephant's tusks were cut off by suspected poacher(s).
A post-mortem revealed 70 gunshot wounds on the body, and one bullet pierced its head. Nearby villagers, however, said they did not hear any gunshot being fired.
Speaking on her visit to Sabah, Sherward said she is assisting SWD in translocating a pair of rehabilitated orangutans from Sepilok to Tabin.
She said the orangutans, nicknamed Ceria and Rosa, would be monitored during the entire release programme.
Sherward also revealed that another orangutan, nicknamed Tiger, which was released into the wild last year, visited some settlements before being recaptured and taken back to Sepilok.
A UK based non-governmental organisation, OAUK has been working with SWD for the past 20 years to help fund various activities and staffing at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.
Recently, OAUK had pledged RM1 million for the department’s wildlife rescue unit. This includes the purchase of three new 4WD rescue vehicles, which were officially handed over to the unit early this year.