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PRESS RELEASE: REWARD OFFERED FOR INFORMATION ON SECOND PYGMY ELEPHANT KILLING IN SABAH

RSPO and Sabah Wildlife Department call for action as brutal act marks second elephant killing this month

22 October 2019, Kota Kinabalu: Today, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Darrel Webber condemned the killing of a second endangered pygmy elephant found shot dead, without its tusks, in the Beluran District of Sabah, and offered a reward of MYR 50,000 in exchange for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for this incident, as a small gesture to help with the efforts on the ground. The reward will be coordinated through the Sabah Wildlife Department. 

According to media reports, the elephant was discovered by plantation workers on Saturday morning (19 October) but it’s believed the elephant was killed three to five days earlier. Investigations are currently underway to find the culprits. This marks the second killing of a pygmy elephant in Sabah, Malaysia in less than a month. Those responsible must be brought to justice and stand accountable for their vicious actions. 

RSPO’s CEO has appealed to the public, stating, “These recent killings are symptoms of a larger problem - a problem that will only grow if we, collectively, do not intervene. Having been involved in conservation work in Sabah, I know that elephants in Sabah, have two major issues: Firstly, elephant ranges and migration paths have been severely impacted by development. This has led to a steady increase of human and elephant conflict. And this conflict can sometimes be deadly. Secondly, elephant poaching for tusks are on the rise. Or perhaps, the reports of poaching seem to be on the rise.“ 

To tackle these two issues there will need to be a holistic approach, backed by local stakeholders and with appropriate resources. It is not a solution to continue addressing the issue of elephant range and migration bottlenecks simply by addressing the symptoms on an adhoc basis. And, there is an urgent need to manage the elephant population of Sabah, which includes understanding their population size, growth, and looking at the landscape of Sabah on how to accommodate them. 

Datuk Webber continued, “We are all concerned about stopping the poaching of our wildlife and each have a role to play. It is in the best interest of Sabah’s major industries, particularly the Tourism and Oil Palm Sector, to have a well managed elephant population. Both sectors must work hard to find out what those roles are. Otherwise, we will end up with these recurring, deplorable acts.”

The RSPO understands that balancing the needs of a large species that move over great areas, against the needs of the local human population will be a challenging and thorny issue. We hope that the current initiative by the Sabah Government, Industry, and Civil Society to address the sustainability of the palm oil sector at a Jurisdictional level, can help contribute towards a holistic approach in managing the elephant population in Sabah. Within this initiative is the identification of important conservation areas and hopefully corridors for elephant migration can be kept open or reopened. 

Datuk Webber also reminded the public of RSPO’s whistleblower policy and encouraged anyone to utilise it, particularly for information relating to RSPO members. The RSPO Policy on Human Rights Defenders, Whistleblowers, Complainants and Community Spokespersons allows stakeholders to lodge complaints in confidence, with the RSPO Complaints Panel on the activities undertaken by, on behalf of, or in connection with the activities of a RSPO member which may result in risks to the safety and/or security of said persons. The RSPO Complaints System is another avenue stakeholders may use to  handle and address complaints against RSPO members.


About RSPO

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formed in 2004 with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products through credible global standards and engagement of stakeholders. RSPO is a not-for-profit, international, membership organisation that unites stakeholders from the different sectors of the palm oil industry including oil palm producers, palm oil processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and investors, environmental or nature conservation NGOs, and social or developmental NGOs.

This multi-stakeholder representation is mirrored in the governance structure of RSPO such that seats in the Board of Governors, Steering Committees and Working Groups are fairly allocated to each sector. In this way, RSPO lives out the philosophy of the "roundtable" by giving equal rights to each stakeholder group, facilitating traditionally adversarial stakeholders in working together to reach decisions by consensus, and achieving RSPO’s shared vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.

The seat of the association is in Zurich, Switzerland, while the secretariat is currently based in Kuala Lumpur with satellite offices in Jakarta (ID), London (UK), Zoetermeer (NL), Beijing (CN) and Bogotá (CO).

For further information, kindly contact:  

Name: Dan Strechay

Position: Head of Communications

Email: dan.strechay@rspo.org

Name: Sara Cowling

Position: Communication and Content Manager

Email: sara.cowling@rspo.org