Probe on why five villagers entered forest reserve

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Kota Kinabalu: A probe is under way by the Sabah Forestry Department to determine the actual reasons why five men entered the Ulu Segama forest reserve before getting lost there.

Sabah Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Sam Mannan said the five villagers from Kampung Paris Kinabatangan district would be questioned as soon as possible.

“We want to know what were their real intentions in entering the forest reserve,” he told the Star.

He said the department would also check if the five men had any permit to enter the reserve.

“We should complete the investigation in about two weeks before deciding on the next course of action,” Mannan added.

He said the department’s staff were involved in the search and that nine other villagers, who assisted them, also ended up getting lost in the reserve.

On June 21, the five men went into the forest reserve to catch fish When they failed to return home after 24 hours, another group of nine villagers went to search for them.

Police were alerted when all 14 villagers could not be contacted by their families. An operation was mounted involving some 80 policemen, firemen, Forestry Department and Civil Defence personnel.

The two groups were found separately on Tuesday. There are suspicions that the men were either poaching the forest for wildlife or gaharu (Agarwood).

Some believed the five men were also from across the border.

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