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Workshop on Challenges of Enforcement in Combating Corruption in Wildlife Crimes concluded last week

A joint Press Release from Sabah Wildlife Department, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Danau Girang Field Centre Workshop on Challenges of Enforcement in Combating Corruption in Wildlife Crimes concluded last week.   Kota Kinabalu: Sabah and Sarawak representatives of law enforcement agencies met in Kota Kinabalu on the 13 and 14 of July to increase awareness on anti-corruption laws, including witness and whistleblower protection. This workshop was part of the training available for the inter-agency Working Group on Wildlife Crime Intelligence. The workshop, organised by Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD), Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), was a platform for the different agencies to share the difficulties when witnessing and denouncing corruption related to wildlife crimes. According to the Director of the MACC, Mr Karunanithy A/L Y. Subbiah: “Worldwide, bribery in crimes involving wildlife smuggling is increasingly spreading at a worrying pace and has become one of the driving forces for illicit trade that is still hard to curb at national and international level.” He also emphasized that “bribery is no longer seen as only a local problem but has evolved into trans-boundary crime phenomena which coincides with the main topic of the workshop that focuses on trade and smuggling of wildlife internationally that usually involves bribery, smuggling, money laundering and others”. “We must be aware that corruption is multifaceted and can occur at every stage of the wildlife, forestry and fisheries value chain. It can include bribes for information on the movement of animals or patrols, or to obtain rights and quotas, or grease the wheels of shipments, to ensure that they are not inspected or seized”, said Mr Augustine Tuuga, Director of the SWD, during the opening ceremony. “This is the first time an anti-corruption workshop with emphasis on wildlife crimes takes place in Sabah”, remarked Tuuga. He also mentioned that the SWD must work with all possible partners to build understanding and ensure that wildlife, forest and fisheries agencies are trained and equipped to respond to corruption. The department is also looking forward to extend the collaboration with the MACC. “We will work towards the creation of an Organisational Anti-Corruption Plan”, said Tuuga. DGFC’s Director, Prof Benoit Goossens, said he hopes the workshop will be an opportunity to increase inter-agency collaboration and to work towards the objectives of the Wildlife State Action Plans adopted last year by the State Cabinet. “During the 2017 international workshops on proboscis monkey, Sunda clouded leopard and Bornean banteng, jointly organised by SWD and DGFC, it was recognised that poaching, hunting, and illegal killing and trade, were real threats to these and other species in Sabah. The information compiled at the workshops was included in the State Action Plans for each species, specifically to increase the capacities of wildlife law enforcement government agencies and of key partners in conservation. In particular, to train crime analysts, investigators and intelligence gatherers, and a certified forensic technician at the Sabah Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic Laboratory (WHGFL)”, Goossens added. “We have been working continuously with Sabah Forestry Department and with SWD towards the implementation of the action plans,” Goossens concluded.   This training is part of the program “Boosting enforcement and forensic capacity to deter wildlife crimes in Sabah”. Almost RM4 million have been funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the US Department of State through DGFC. The enforcement and forensic program will support a number of specialised training sessions, not only for the units of SWD, but also for the members of the Working Group on Wildlife Crime Intelligence. This week this group is following a training on Crime Scene Management and Advanced Investigative Techniques.   Pictures: Picture 1: Mr Karunanithy A/L Y. Subbiah, Director of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Sabah giving his speech. Picture 2: Mr Mohd Soffian bin Abu Bakar, Head of Enforcement Division at Sabah Wildlife Department, giving a presentation on the role of corruption in illegal wildlife trade. Picture 3: Mr Augustine Tuuga, Director of Sabah Wildlife Department giving his speech. Picture 4: Mr Augustine Tuuga (right) and Professor Benoit Goossens (left) presenting a memento of appreciation to Mr Karunanithy A/L Y. Subbiah, Director of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Sabah. Picture 5: Backdrop of the workshop.

Health at the Edge Project

As part of the outreach strategy for the H@EP, we are excited to announce the formal launching of our social media accounts where you will find news and information related to the health and conservation of the Bornean wildlife. We will also post interesting stories about the H@EP and other projects related in Sabah and the South East Asia Region. Follow us in:

July Art Contest!

DGFC is pleased to announce another Eco-Art Contest. To participate, please read carefully the important following info: ABOUT THE THEME The contest’s theme for this month is Environmental Awareness. The main purpose is to encourage the public to think seriously about conservation of the environment around them and the earth's future, as well as raising environmental awareness and move others to take action. GENERAL CONDITIONS:
  1. Contestants’ artwork must be original and must relate to the theme of the contest. It is critical that submitted artwork not be overly derivative of images found on the internet, in print media, or elsewhere. To avoid copyright infringement, works thought to be copies will be disqualified.
  2. Each contestant can send a maximum of three entries but only the best one will be chosen.
  3. Art type: Paintings, Drawings, Illustration.
  4. Art medium: No restrictions.
  5. A caption must be given for the art work and must be accompanied by a corresponding description (no more than 200 words) explaining any designs ideas and concepts.
  6. Contestants will retain copyright of their submitted entries. However, by entering, all contestants licence DGFC a royalty-free perpetual licence to edit, publish and use each entry in any and all media (including print and online) for publicity and news purposes.
  7. Open for Malaysians only.
IMPORTANT DATES: 1st July 2020                  - Contest is open 23rd July 2020      - Closing date. Latest by 5:00pm 31st July 2020      - Announcement of winner JUDGING CRITERIA: The art will be judged based on these criteria:-
  1. Concept (25%) : How well does the work relate to the topic/theme?
  2. Creativity & originality (25%) : How original and creative does the quality of the artwork?
  3. Colour (25%): How does colour enhance the artwork?
  4. Expressions (25%): How imaginatively does the work convey an idea?
SUBMISSION OF ARTWORK
  1. Create a digital image (soft copy) of your artwork by either of these methods:-
  • Scan
  • Photograph
* Make sure to save and submit them in high resolution. You can save your artwork either in JPEG or PDF format.
  1. Please provide these info in an ordered manner when submitting your artwork:
  • Full name
  • IC number
  • Contact number
  • Address
  • Artwork caption
  1. Should be submitted electronically to education@dgfc.life
PRIZES
  • Only ONE winner per contest.
  • Winner will receive DGFC’s t-shirts, books, and merchandise combo.
ENQUIRY For more info, please email us at education@dgfc.life.

DR DIANA ANGELES RAMIREZ SALDIVAR: AN UNSUNG WILDLIFE HERO

On behalf of the Ramirez Saldivar and Goossens Salgado families, I am taking the opportunity to commemorate Diana at almost two months of her passing. I met Diana for the first time when she came from Mexico to Sabah eight years ago, invited by my wife, Milena Salgado Lynn, also Mexican, to work as a wildlife veterinarian for the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit. Milena tells me of the feisty, hard-working and committed woman with whom she shared a bedroom almost 20 years ago. Back then, Diana had dreams of always working for wildlife, something she had already volunteered for, even as a teenager, in a couple of zoos in Mexico. ‘Tia Dianin’ (my son’s nickname for her) was 28 years old when she arrived in Kota Kinabalu, full of hopes and still determined to make a difference for wildlife conservation. For administrative reasons, she obtained a work permit under Danau Girang Field Centre, as a wildlife anaesthetist, although she was always under the leadership of Dr Sen Nathan, manager of the Wildlife Rescue Unit and Assistant Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department. Diana was the most amazingly vibrant, feeling, loving, creative force you could imagine. She was full of passion for animals, domestic and wild. Unfortunately, she was also feeling very lonely in a world that is, most of the time, very unfair and brutal for someone fragile like Diana who could be manipulated and abused. After many years of suffering of severe chronic depression, borderline personality disorder, anorexia, and a toxic relationship with a person I won’t mention here, she decided to end her days because she felt hopeless, disappointed by those she trusted the most, and to finally find peace in her mind and heart. My honest expression of the pain, anger and guilt her suicide leaves behind will not bring her back, but it could help others facing the same kind of loss know they are not alone. I want to honour Diana’s struggles because they are struggles that many people around us traverse. I would like to make a strong call for greater awareness and conversation about the often-forbidden topics of mental illness and suicide, especially in Malaysia. For the past eight weeks, since Diana passed, I have been blaming myself for not being there for her, wondering what I missed. When persons kill themselves, they leave a body behind, they leave broken hearts behind, and they leave a question behind: why? “Why?” is the great mystery of suicide and for many people, like me, that question can haunt and torment them all their lives, robbing them of any chance of peace. Twenty-three years ago, my father committed suicide and until today, I’m still asking myself the question: why? No matter how challenging our relationship with Diana was, it also held moments of joy, friendship, compassion, happiness and achievement in wildlife conservation that deserve to be remembered and that I will be cherishing the rest of my life. I will always remember the first proboscis monkey we darted and collared, the massive elephant bull named Gading we tracked for hours in the forest in the Kinabatangan, finally darting and collaring him, the crocodile we restrained in order to set it up with a satellite tag, the Sunda pangolin we released back into the forest, the many discussions we had about wildlife poaching and trade, something we fought hard together and wanted to bring to an end. I will personally continue the fight in her memory and for the future generations. Even after her passing, Diana continued to save lives through the gift of organ donation. Her liver was transplanted to a 29 year-old lady who has been diagnosed with congenital hepatic fibrosis with portal hypertension since the age of 7. One kidney was given to a 44 year-old gentleman, another kidney went a 34 year-old lady. Both recipients suffered end stage kidney failure and had been put on dialysis for 18 years. Her right cornea was received by a 74 year-old gentleman with pseudophakic bullous keratopathy and the left one by a 34 year-old gentleman with impending perforation corneal ulcer. Diana’s heart valves are kept in the homograft bank at the National Heart Institute (IJN, Malaysia), and her bones at the Hospital University Sains Malaysia’s (HUSM) bone bank to be used when there is a patient in need. To this date, Diana already saved three human lives, restored the sight of two people, and her remaining tissues will benefit at least another 9 patients. Diana is a real unsung wildlife hero, a true Sabah’s wildlife warrior! She deserves respect and recognition for her achievements in wildlife conservation, for her fight to save animals, wild and domestic, in Sabah. To this end, I have decided to set up the Diana Ramirez Conservation Fund in her memory, aiming to support meaningful local conservation initiatives in Sabah, especially for the elephants that she loved so much. Diana, Sabah will not forget you!

Benoit Goossens Director of Danau Girang Field Centre  

We’re TEN years old!

DGFC is celebrating its tenth anniversary. The centre opened its doors in July 2008 and we’re marking the occasion with a scientific seminar focusing on the themes: “Landscape Ecology”, “Genetics, disease, ecotoxicology and trade”, and “Partners from research and community”. Presentations will be on the results of scientific projects that have been led by or in collaboration with DGFC, as well as on conservation activities carried out with a few of our partners. The DGFC’s Tenth Anniversary report can be consulted here.

Conservation in Action

State action plans for three species (proboscis monkey, banteng and clouded leopard) will be launched within DGFC’s tenth anniversary celebrations. In 2017 DGFC organised three international workshops focusing on each of those species with the aim of gathering all possible knowledge on them and promoting discussions among relevant stakeholders. The discussion from those workshops translated into 10-year management plans that have been supported by the Sabah Wildlife Department. It is expected they will be adopted by the State Cabinet next year.