KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will adopt more aggressive approaches in monitoring the hunting, sale or possession of protected wildlife or endangered plant species, says Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga.

With many economic and social sectors reopened, wildlife officials are not taking any chances in letting poachers get active once again in the state, he said.

Now that licensed hunting is allowed in most areas that have been so designated, he said there could be a possibility that some would take advantage.

“We are not saying that there will be increased poaching but there is that possibility, which is why we are taking measures to prevent this,” he said when contacted.

Tuuga, however, did not reveal these approaches so that the effectiveness of their operations would not be hampered.

He also advised the public not to buy protected wildlife, even if their intention was to rescue the animal from poachers or from it ending up in someone’s kitchen.

The people should always alert the authorities first if they come across such cases, he said.

This comes after a recent incident where wildlife officials were called in to collect a live pangolin, a fully protected species in Sabah, which was bought from an unknown trader.

In this case, Tuuga said they received a call from someone saying that he had bought the pangolin as he wanted to rescue it.

The caller said he came across the seller on the street and that he did not know where the person went after that.

“Instead of paying for the pangolin, one can alert us immediately so that action can be taken against the perpetrator,” he said.

However, Tuuga commended the caller for his conscientiousness, saying that his action showed that there is an increased awareness on wildlife possession in Sabah.

He said some of the common protected wildlife and plants being poached were pangolin, tembadau (wild buffalo) and slipper orchids.

Those found having parts of any fully protected species such as the pangolin can be fined at least RM50,000 and up to RM250,000, or jailed between one and five years upon conviction.