Tag Archives: Malaysia

Sun bear, racehorse died of suspected poisoning

http://www.nst.com.my/latest/sun-bear-racehorse-died-of-suspected-poisoning-1.220607

18 February 2013| last updated at 04:12PM

MALACCA: A Malayan sun bear and a racehorse have died at Malacca Zoo, here, as a result of suspected deliberate poisoning.

A vet at the zoo, Dr. Zubaidah Kamarudin, said autopsy results on the sun bear revealed that it had eaten a banana which contained a white powder.

“At around 5pm on Sunday, a visitor told a member of zoo staff that a sun bear was behaving oddly. When the zookeeper went to check on the animal, we found it foaming at the mouth and suffering from seizures,” she said.

Dr. Zubaidah said the sun bear was immediately taken to the zoo’s clinic to attempt to flush out the poison, but unfortunately, it could not be saved.

“The poison used was very strong; it caused severe damage to the sun bear’s digestive system and we were unable to save it,” she said.

The female sun bear, estimated to have been around 14 to 16 years old, had been one of four sun bears under the zoo’s care and had been rescued from the forests of Johor by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) in 2000 before being sent to Malacca Zoo.

The Malayan sun bear, also known as the honey bear due to its penchant for eating honey, is classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a result of the large-scale deforestation that has occurred throughout Southeast Asia over the past three decades, dramatically reducing its habitat.

Dr. Zubaidah added that following the incident, thorough checks were made on all animals and their exhibits.

“During the checks, we found a plastic bag in the chimpanzee exhibit containing a banana, an orange and sugar cane, all with the same white powder. Luckily, no animals had eaten it,” she said.

This morning, a 17-year-old male racehorse had also been found dead in its stall by zoo staff.

The racehorse, named Basket, had been a part of the pony ride exhibit at the zoo for the past three years and had been on loan.

Samples from both animals have been sent to the Chemistry Department to determine the type of poison that had been used.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who visited Malacca Zoo today, said it was clear that the animals had been intentionally poisoned.

“I’m very saddened by the deaths of these innocent animals. Whoever was responsible for this is cruel and irresponsible.

“I’ve been informed that the sun bear had been fed the poisoned banana prior to its feeding time, so it is possible that a visitor had been behind this,” he said.

Mohd Ali added that in the past, Malacca Zoo had allowed visitors to bring in food to feed the animals.

“However, with immediate enforcement, zoo management have decided that visitors are not allowed to bring outside food to give to the animals and must purchase food supplied by the zoo that has been deemed safe.

“Additionally, I have suggested to zoo management to install closed-circuit television cameras around the zoo to closely monitor activities within the compound,” he said.
Mohd Ali also said a police report had been filed, adding that the state government was offering a RM10,000 reward to those with information that would lead to apprehending the culprit

Read more: Sun bear, racehorse died of suspected poisoning – Latest – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/latest/sun-bear-racehorse-died-of-suspected-poisoning-1.220607#ixzz2LJSIIH3C

Builders: Britain vs. Malaysia

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 http://arkitrek.com/http:/arkitrek.com/builders-britain-vs-malaysia/

Arkitrekker on November 11th, 2009Text and photos by Billy Dunn

When Ian asked me to write a piece for the blog about my first experiences living and working in Sabah, Borneo, I initially thought of the obvious cultural differences; food, drink, climate, wildlife etc. These of course are all very interesting and important…

…but in order to give my own unique view so far on Sabah that would provide something a bit light-hearted to think about, I have decided to write about a topic I experience everyday…builders.

It is interesting to make you aware that this is in fact my first experience of working on a building site. During my working year out from studying Architecture back in the UK I never left the office so my first encounter with working alongside builders has occurred here in Sepilok! Whether this is a good or bad introduction to the daily life of a construction site remains to be seen!

To paint the picture I’m going to compare the general rules and stereotypical habits of builders in the UK to the builders here, who in fact originate from the Philippines.

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Imagine this process in Britain; The builders are arranging the reinforcement bars and formwork for the concrete roof tie beams. They would have big, sturdy, steel toe caps boots on, wearing helmets and high visibility vests and standing on a carefully erected scaffolding platform, probably attached to a harness. They would be wearing gloves and would overall be secure in the job they were participating in.

Now imagine this in Sabah; The builder’s protection on their feet (if any) is flip flops. I haven’t actually seen a helmet since I have been here. The only thing they wear on their heads are large sombreros. The scaffolding platform they are clambering up and balancing on top of is swaying with every swing of the hammer they take. The closest thing to a safety harness they have seems to be a cigarette in their mouth as no-one would dare be up there without one. It also seems to help them balance. So imagine a builder two storeys up; he is swinging away at the nails whilst puffing away on his fag and carefully balancing in his flip flops which are almost falling off his feet, all whilst on top of the jelly scaffolding!

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So this was my first impression of construction. I initially watched every move with horror waiting for something to go wrong but I have now become fascinated with the way they work.

On a typical British building site there are heavy rules about no children allowed on site. Here, there are not only children on site, but they are actually the builder’s daughters! One of the girls, who can’t be any older than 5, quite freely walks around the nails and bits of stray material, barefoot, beneath the scaffolding. If she gets a little bored she’ll pick up a hammer and start nailing something, all in the proud eye of her father!

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In Britain, the use of heavy machinery is a serious responsibility. In Sepilok, on a Sunday afternoon with the family watching and in between using the bucket for distributing concrete to be poured for the tie beams, the excavator becomes a serious piece of fun. The two guys, rather than climb back down the wobbly scaffolding, calmly jump into the bucket and hold on tightly to be dropped and raised spectacularly like a rollercoaster. The driver has his headphones in listening to music by the way, but the smiles on their faces was worth all the safety issues of course.

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Welding should be approached using a protective mask as exposure to the glare can damage the eyes. Here, I’m still scratching my eyes in amazement (no pun…) wondering if any welders here can see. One particular welder must enjoy the overall itchy, irritable blind sensation as he sits wearing sun glasses with his face a foot away from the new bear cages being welded.

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At home, if we get a spell of bright weather, the typical builder loses his top to expose his pasty white belly and “builders crack.” The radio from the van is blaring out and the Sun Newspaper is being thrown around. All of this is in fact the opposite here. With the constant hot conditions, a majority of the builders like to cover up completely from the sun. This involves long tight sleeves, long skinny jeans and usually a t shirt wrapped around his head with a pair of sunglasses, all in 35 degrees of heat. There are no radios required as the Philippine guys enjoy singing their hearts out whilst on site; we’ve had everything from Janet Jackson to the Beatles.

From all these comparisons there are two characteristics British and Malaysian builders have in common.

The first involves females. It is in fact in the small print of builders’ rights that at any stage should a member of the opposite sex come into sight, then all work can pause. During the construction of the Biogas Digester on site, we had eight female volunteers from Camps International. Before the girls could pick up a brick I realised that the eyes of three sets of builders were directed at them; the guys working directly next to us, a group near the gate working on the new orang-utan nursery and another at the top of the hill. All tools were laid down, wheelbarrows dumped and engines switched off to admire the girls! Unlike the British way of approaching girls, there were no wolf-whistling or sexist comments but simply a calm stare!

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The second is to enjoy riding in vans. Any opportunity to hop in the van to go somewhere is gladly received. Here you have the added bonus that more can fit on the back of the truck with one hand holding onto the roof and the other waving goodbye to the girls. The dashboard of your van must also be filled with old newspapers, used drinks cartons and any invoices that were supposed to be given.

Above all I would like to stress that working with the local builders is a pleasure. They always have a smile on their face, will always greet you and say goodbye and will share any English they know with you. Through all the tricky conditions they face, they get on with their work to a high level and all for a very minimal wage. They also gladly get involved with helping the sun bear volunteers when they can see we’re struggling and are happy to share their knowledge and tools.

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I will write a sequel to this blog one day once I have experienced all this through the British builder’s perspective!

 * Billy Dunn is the assistant of our architect Ian Hall from UK

Driver admits to 5 wildlife offences for the killing of at least 12 sun bears and other Malaysian wildlife

New Straits Times 

17 November 2009

KUANTAN, Malaysia: A lorry driver was charged in the magistrate’s court yesterday with possessing clouded monitor lizards, which are a protected species, and body parts of wild owls and the sun bear.

M. Ravindran, 31, from Indera Mahkota, near here, was read five charges under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for possessing:

– 2,330 live clouded monitor lizards;
– 47 limbs of sun bears (Helarctos malayanus);
– 246 carcasses of skinned Barn Owls (Tyto alba);
– 72 carcasses of Barred eagle owls (Bubo sumatranus); and
– a skinned Brown Wood Owl (Strix leplogranunica).The father of three was also charged with endangering the clouded monitor lizards by confining them in cages. He pleaded guilty to committing the offences at Lot 467, Jalan Bukit Ubi on Jan 11.

Magistrate Iriane Isabelo fixed Dec 7 for sentencing. Ravindran was represented by Syed Azimal Amir Syed Abu Bakar. Mohd Hasdi Husin prosecuted for the Wildlife and National Parks Department.

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/14wld/Article/index_html

Foreign poachers using M16 in forest reserves in Malaysian state of Terengganu

Article translated from a local Malay newspaper. 

Foreign poachers are using Terengganu as an illegal wildlife hub in the East coast before the items being smuggled into neighbouring countries. These poachers adopt a communist-like tactics in the forest reserves with the use M16. Their tracks are difficult to be traced, while weapons were hung on trees or buried to avoid being detected by officers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP). Villagers residing in the nearby village such as in Hulu Besut, Hulu Terengganu and Hulu Dungun, claimed that foreign poachers with M16 in the forest is nothing new. Poaching activity not only aim at wild animal , but also wild plants.  

DWNP Terengganu Director, Rozidan Md Yassin, stated saying that most illegal hunting cases were failed from being charged due to lack of evidence support. However, a proactive step has been taken with the improvement of the monitoring and integrating the work with other relevant enforcement agencies on the identified areas.   

Currently, DWNP is putting a moratorium on deer hunting permit. Hunting permit for bird species has temporarily halted due to the spread of the bird flu outbreak, recently.……………………………………………………………………………………………………… 

Berita Harian

Pemburu asing guna taktik komunis rompak khazanah hutan simpan

Shaarani Ismail

15 November 2009 

Pantas hidu jejak penguat kuasa, sembunyi senjata serta hasil buruan elak kena dakwa.

SENJATA api berat seperti M16 dikenal pasti digunakan pemburu haram yang berleluasa di Terengganu, malah kelicikan mereka menyelinap masuk serta menyembunyikan hasil buruan, menyukarkan pihak berkuasa menangkap warga asing yang menceroboh hutan simpan kerajaan itu.

Cara beroperasi mereka bagaikan taktik diguna pakai komunis dengan jejak sukar dikesan, manakala senjata sama digantung di pokok atau ditanam bagi mengelak dikesan pegawai Jabatan Perlindungan Hidupan Liar dan Taman Negara (Perhilitan) .

Keadaan itu membimbangkan penduduk tempatan kerana kegiatan warga asing itu bukan lagi rahsia tetapi peliknya, pihak berkuasa gagal menangkap tindak-tanduk ‘komunis moden’ itu. Terengganu menjadi pusat pengumpulan hasil perburuan haram di Pantai Timur sebelum diseludup ke negara jiran. Negeri lain yang menjadi mangsa pemburu haram kerana simpanan hutan luas dan kedudukannya strategik ialah Kelantan, Pahang, Perak, Kedah dan Perlis.

Kegiatan pemburuan haram yang bukan saja menyasarkan binatang liar, malah hasil hutan berharga termasuk kayu gaharu dan karas memang diketahui umum.

Bagaimanapun, Pengarah Perhilitan Terengganu, Rozidan Md Yassin, berkata sebahagian besar kes pemburuan haram yang dilaporkan gagal didakwa kerana tidak dapat disokong bukti seperti hasil tangkapan atau hasil hutan yang diambil. Langkah paling proaktif yang dapat diambil agensi itu adalah pencegahan dengan meningkatkan pemantauan berkala dan membanteras secara bersepadu dengan pelbagai agensi lain yang berkaitan terhadap kawasan yang dikenal pasti.

“Dalam setiap operasi, Perhilitan menahan beberapa pemburu yang disyaki memburu secara tidak sah, bagaimanapun kami tidak dapat mendakwa mereka kerana kekurangan bukti,” katanya.

Beliau berkata, pemburu haram pantas menghidu pergerakan anggota penguat kuasa menyebabkan operasi berakhir dengan tangan kosong kerana tiada bukti ditemui bersama pemburu yang didakwa memburu secara haram.

Katanya, bagi penduduk kampung berhampiran hutan seperti Hulu Besut, Hulu Terengganu dan Hulu Dungun, terserempak dengan pemburu haram terutama warga negara jiran bersama senjata berat termasuk M16 bukan perkara yang asing. Keadaan itu sekali gus menimbulkan kehairanan bagaimana mereka boleh melepasi pihak berkuasa, sekali gus menyebabkan timbul keyakinan kegiatan mereka didalangi penduduk tempatan.

Ada pemburu haram warga tempatan berselindung dan melakukan kegiatan sampingan termasuk menjadi pemandu pelancong di kawasan tertentu yang diketahui mempunyai sumber hidupan liar yang banyak.

Dalam satu kes tangkapan pemburu haram baru-baru ini, dua pemandu bot pelancong ditahan selepas dikesan menjadikan kawasan Hutan Simpan Tembat berhampiran Pusat Santuari Gajah Sungai Ketiar, Kenyir, Hulu Terengganu sebagai lokasi memburu haiwan dilindungi.

“Memang ada pemburu warga asing yang ditahan mempunyai rekod sebagai anggota tentera sekali gus menjelaskan dakwaan orang ramai mengenai kemahiran mereka menggunakan senjata berat, tetapi hingga kini tiada yang ditemui bersama senjata berkenaan,” katanya.

Beliau tidak menolak kemungkinan mereka menanam senjata dan peralatan digunakan sebaik menyedari kehadiran pihak berkuasa kerana difahamkan kebanyakan pemburu haram tinggal di dalam hutan untuk tempoh lama.

Undang-undang untuk membendung gejala pemburuan haram memang sudah termaktub di bawah Akta Perlindungan Hidupan Liar 1972 yang boleh membawa hukuman penjara maksimum tiga tahun atau denda RM3,000 atau kedua-duanya sekali namun ramai yang masih tidak mengendahkan peraturan itu.

Akta Perlindungan Hidupan Liar 1972 (Akta 76), diwujudkan bertujuan melindungi spesies hidupan liar sama ada matang atau tidak matang dan tidak kira ia boleh dijinakkan atau dibiakkan dalam kurungan. Bagaimanapun, ia tidak termasuk hidupan liar dari spesies marin, ikan serta anjing dan kucing domestik.

Bagi meningkatkan keberkesanan langkah mengekang pemburuan haram, Jabatan Perhilitan sudah mewujudkan Unit Jenayah Hidupan Liar (WCU) yang bergerak aktif tanpa sempadan di seluruh Semenanjung dan bertindak sebagai ‘skuad terbang’ bagi memantau dan menguatkuasakan undang-undang berkaitan dengan lebih efektif dan berkesan.

Ketika ini, Perhilitan juga membekukan permit perburuan rusa pada setiap November kerana sebab tertentu dan penguatkuasaan itu dilaksanakan di seluruh negara. Permit pemburuan juga tidak dikeluarkan untuk spesies burung termasuk ayam hutan selepas penularan wabak selesema burung yang mengancam negara baru-baru ini. 

http://www.bharian. com.my/Current_ News/BH/Monday/ Rencana/20091115 224723/Article/

Malaysian wild animals to be filmed for American TV

By MUGUNTAN VANAR

KOTA KINABALU: American animal expert Jack Hanna, popularly known as “Jungle Jack” is in Malaysia for a television shoot of the wild.

The 62-year-old is in Sabah to film orang utans, sunbears, proboscis monkeys and pygmy elephants in the wilds of Borneo for his entertainment and educational television show “Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild.”

Hanna and his crew will also be heading towards Sarawak and peninsular Malaysia during his two-week trip to Malaysia and Singapore for at least four 30-minute television series.

Invited by Tourism Malaysia, Hanna told reporters here that the great apes and elephants had always fascinated him and that it was the first time he was doing a show on orang utan and the Borneo pygmy elephants.

‘’I have always wanted to come to Malaysia but my tight schedules around the world delayed me. I am really excited to be here in Borneo,” said Hanna who has been hosting educational animal shows for the last 43 years.

In Sabah, he will focus on the Sandakan Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre, Sunbear Conservation, Guamuntong caves, Kinabatangan and Labuk Bay before leaving for Kuching where he will focus on the Sarawak Cultural Village and Bakun National Park.

He will briefly visit Singapore before heading to Batu Caves and Kuala Gandar Elephant Sanctuary in the peninsula.

“Our show is about people, culture and animals,” said Hanna whose shows reach 98% of the audience in the United States.

He is a regular guest in Good Morning America, Larry King Live, The Late Show with David Letterman and Fox News Programmes.

Hanna, who stresses on respecting animals in their habitats, the theme of his series were to educate people on the various animals as it was a foundation towards conservation efforts.

“When I say respect animals, I mean you should just leave them to do what they are doing in their habitat and not disturb or provoke them,” he added.

Hanna said that his company allowed the host country to get rights to use his films for their respective promotions.

Smugglers’ boatload of wildlife in Malaysia

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Smugglers’ boatload of wildlife

2009/09/14

ROMPIN: Marine police foiled an attempt to smuggle out about 12 tonnes of exotic animals using a fishing boat in Tanjung Gemuk near here on Saturday.

Two suspects, in their 40s and 50s, were arrested while they were busy transferring 18 boxes containing live and dead animals from a lorry onto a boat at an old jetty about 3am. Among the animals and their parts seized were sunbear, monitor lizards and owls.

Marine police Region 3 Operation division head Deputy Superintendent Mohd Hassan Hasyim said investigations showed the suspects had brought the exotic animals from Tanjung Malim.

“They planned to load the animals into the fishing boat before transferring the consignment into another vessel at sea.
“We believe that the animals were destined for a neighbouring country to be sold at restaurants there,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Hassan said it was the first of such case this year and the Marine police would hand over the seized animals and parts to the Wildlife and National Parks Department.

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/6bear/Article/index_html20090914_n60_nst_pn_6_bw_smugglersboatloadofwildlife1.jpg

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Wong’s notes: There is no doubt that wildlife smuggling in Malaysia is on the rise. Each of the wildlife smuggling that police seized represent a tip of an iceberg. If immediate and effective actions to stop wildlife poaching and smuggling are not taken soon, the rainforest in Malaysia will soon join the list of “empty forests syndrome.”    

Empty Forest Syndrome?

Read more about it at http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0118-hance_hunting.html

Here is what was written by WCS about the bushmeat crisis in Congo Basin, Africa.:

————————————-

 Empty Forest Syndrome

Hunting can still be sustain able where human population density is low, and where law enforcement authorities, or other management systems, control the quantity of meat exported to urban areas.However, as industrial activities such as logging open up previously inaccessible areas of the forest through the construction of roads, and population density grows in logging villages and urban centers, the demand for bushmeat increases, making sustainable exploitation of wildlife nearly impossible. This not only threatens wildlife populations but also the livelihoods and food security of the traditional peoples that depend on them.

Although deforestation poses a significant threat to the survival of the forested landscapes in the Congo Basin, many scientists are now agreed that it is the bushmeat trade that is the greatest threat to the ecosystem. Not only does unsustainable hunting leave the forest empty of wildlife, but the plant-animal interactions that facilitate forest regeneration and maintenance are lost. 

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Wong’s notes: Interestingly, the situation described above sound familiar to what I saw in Borneo and other part Malaysia and Indonesia. Ironically the authority in Malaysia always denies and shies away from the topic of wildlife poaching and smuggling. IF in the future when we hear less on the news reports on the wildlife poaching and smuggling, perhaps it is not because of the authority has done a good job to prevent such crime from happening, but the wildlife population in the country has been wiped out to the brinks of extinction. I hope I am wrong. 

——————————————————————-http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20090811211703/Article/index_html

Malaysia Ministry denies allegation of wildlife smuggling

2009/08/11

MARAN, Tues: Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup has denied allegations that Malaysia is the world’s largest wildlife smuggling centre. He said the government would not compromise on the smuggling of wildlife and had taken stern action against culprits who committed such offences.

“We admit that such an activity exists, but we always take stern action against the culprits,” he told reporters after launching the Rakan Alam Sekitar campaign here today.

He was commenting on a recent report in an English daily that Malaysia had become the world’s largest wildlife smuggling centre.
Kurup said amendments to the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 were being drafted to provide heavier penalties against those who committed offences related to wildlife and national parks. — BERNAMA

Malaysian police seize smuggled bear parts, owls

Malaysian police seize smuggled bear parts, owls

9/13/2009, 11:21 p.m. EDT The Associated Press  

(AP) — KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Malaysian police say they have seized more than $100,000 worth of dead owls, bear paws and live monitor lizards and arrested two men on suspicion of trying to smuggle them abroad.

Mohamad Hassan Hashim, a marine police official in eastern Terengganu state, says two Malaysian men were caught Sunday loading the protected wildlife into a boat.

He says police found 33 sun bear parts, 264 dead owls and 4,800 live monitor lizards, worth some 350,000 ringgit ($100,300) in all. The lizards will be released into the wild.

<!– if (parseFloat(navigator.appVersion) == 0) { document.write(”); } –>Mohamad Hassan said Monday the men could face up to three years in prison if charged with and found guilty of possessing protected wild animals.

© 2009 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Illegal animal trading puts Malaysia on the world map for all the wrong reasons

By HILARY CHIEW
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/8/10/starprobe/4369565&sec=starprobe

KUALA LUMPUR: In 2006, Taiwanese authorities seized a three-tonne shipment of ivory from Tanzania worth RM25mil that had transited Penang port.

An Indian national who was caught with an illegal consignment of Indian star tortoises at the KL International Airport in 2007 said he was paid to bring it into the country for a Malaysian buyer.

In the second half of 2008, 167 pangolins were seized in four enforcement cases in Muar, indicating that the coastline was a thriving entry point for the anteaters from Indonesia. It is believed that the pangolins were destined for the restaurant and traditional medicine trade, as well as the mainland Chinese market.

Early this year, genetic fingerprinting of seized tiger parts in southern Thailand shows that the Malaya tiger, endemic to Malaysia and numbering only 500 in the wild, have been blatantly poached and smuggled through our land borders.

These are some of the cases that point to illegal trafficking of wildlife and its parts, and to Malaysia being a transit point, a source country, as well as a consumer hub for endangered wildlife.

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 Globally, Interpol estimated the illegal trade to be worth US$10bil (RM35bil) to US$20bil (RM70bil) a year. Conservation groups like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have declared wildlife trade the second biggest direct threat to species survival, after habitat destruction.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) did not respond to requests for the value of animals confiscated last year, but a conservative estimate based on media reports shows that at least RM5mil worth of wildlife was seized in Malaysia last year.

Wildlife trafficking is a trade so lucrative that it is said to rank second after drug trafficking, especially when there is no death penalty to fear in most countries.

Take the pangolin, for instance. According to wildlife trade researchers the creature’s scales and meat are sought after for its purported properties to alleviate rheumatic pains. And as an aphrodisiac too of course, as any purveyor of exotic meat would sell you the idea. That is why pangolins can fetch as much as RM150 per kg or RM500 per animal in the black market.

Traffic, a wildlife trade-monitoring network, fears that the illegal trade in pangolins is already out of control with large shipments of animals being smuggled across numerous international borders, often by the lorry load, to their final destination in China.

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It says that shipments busted by Perhilitan are merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. What slips through the net are far more than one can estimate, in the millions of ringgit over the years.

The rampant smuggling of pangolins has forced Perhilitan to acknowledge that Malaysia has become both an attractive supply and transit country.

Its deputy enforcement director Celescoriano Razond said he feared that international syndicates had turned the country into their main source – not just for pangolin but other wildlife species too.

There have been numerous confiscations of Indian star tortoises at the KLIA with arrests of Indian and Malaysian nationals, yet the smugglers are undeterred. The shipments still come in and the authorities have no other choice but to maintain constant vigilance.

Until recently, the Indian star tortoise from the Indian sub-continent that was banned from export was easily available in local pet shops. The palm-sized exotic pet with star-like markings on its shell was sold at between RM100 and RM150 per creature.

In cases where the illegal shipments of Indian star tortoises were foiled, the authorities have found suitcases packed with the animal, some up to 2,000 pieces in one suitcase.

Perhilitan returns seized consignments to the country of origin but the syndicates involved remain at large.

Existing laws and inadequate manpower remain the biggest setbacks in tackling this scourge. The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 offers no protection for any turtle or tortoise species. A revised law, scheduled to be tabled in Parliament this year, is supposed to plug this particular loophole. However, a check on the draft bill showed that this reptile family is still being left out.

Azrina Abdullah, the immediate ex-director of Traffic, lamented the low fines and reluctance of the courts to put the culprits behind bars. In 2006, conservationists were appalled that a RM7,000 fine (maximum fine is RM15,000) was slapped on a poacher from Tumpat, in Kelantan, for possessing a chopped up tiger in his fridge, instead of the maximum five-year imprisonment. The black market value of a tiger is reported to be US$50,000 (RM180,000).

Currently, fines range from RM1,000 to RM15,000 and imprisonment from a minimum of one year to 10 years. The authorities have indicated a 100% increase in fines and a maximum jail term of 12 years in the pending new law.

Among the issues that need to be addressed is the issuance of special permits by Perhilitan to theme parks, private zoos and individuals for keeping an animal. There is fear that permits given would provide the holders a cover to launder illegal specimens.
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At the regional level, a lack of law enforcement and poor investigation are obstacles to efforts in stemming this exploitation of biodiversity of a country and its neighbours.

Recognising that no country can fight this scourge on its own, governments in the region formed in 2005 a regional anti-wildlife trafficking network aimed at sharing intelligence and improving regional enforcement collaboration.

The 10-member Asean – Wildlife Enforce­ment Network (Asean-WEN) is the world’s largest entity of its kind. Despite the heightened awareness among law enforcers and seemingly higher number of seizures, it remains unclear if the network has managed to cripple the syndicates or apprehend the masterminds behind this hideous crime against nature.

Arrest of Cambodians highlights rising poaching concerns in Malaysia’s protected areas

http://www.traffic.org/home/2009/5/26/arrest-of-cambodians-highlights-rising-poaching-concerns-in.html

Arrest of Cambodians highlights rising poaching concerns in Malaysia’s protected areas

en Français

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 26 May 2009—Three Cambodian poachers with a stash of Wild Boar and argus pheasant meat, agarwood and snares have been nabbed by the National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) at their hideout in a forest reserve in Malaysia’s northern state of Perak.

The trio was part of a larger group of seven men who had been poaching protected species in the Bintang Hijau Forest Reserve in Ulu Lawin, near the town of Gerik.

Perak Perhilitan director Shabrina Mohd Shariff said the department deployed a team of 15 enforcement officers on Saturday after a tip-off.

“My men managed to catch three of them while the rest slipped into the forest under the cover of darkness,” she told the press.

The seven, who had earlier hunted the protected animals in the forest, were resting when they were surprised by enforcement officers.

Officers seized 9.5 kg of smoked Wild Boar meat, 1.9 kg of smoked Wild Boar meat with heads, ribs and limbs, 1.4 kg of argus pheasant meat, 2.6 kg of agarwood and a sack full of argus pheasant feathers.

They also found 52 snares of various sizes, four machetes and three axes.“TRAFFIC applauds the department and urged it not to stop at catching poachers, but to follow the trail to the illegal wildlife traders they supply,” said Julia Ng, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Senior Programme Officer.

“These traders must also be caught, prosecuted and handed out the maximum permissible fines, as they are the ones that fuel the demand for wildlife from the poachers,” she added.

Poaching in protected areas is an issue of increasing concern in Malaysia, and the high market value of agarwood, known as gaharu in the Malay language, is often the reason for organized groups spending long periods in the forest, feeding themselves on whatever wild animal species they can capture.

Areas like the Bintang Hijau Forest Reserve where the Cambodian poachers were arrested are home to many threatened species such as Sumatran Rhinoceros, Clouded Leopard and Sambar deer.

The area is also is an important tiger landscape as outlined in Malaysia’s National Tiger Action Plan and it is not the only area being targeted by poachers.

The State of Perak which lies in the north and borders Thailand has already seen several arrests of poachers in protected areas this year after authorities stepped up enforcement efforts.

On 15 January, officers from Malaysia’s Anti-Smuggling Unit detained two Thai nationals attempting to smuggle seven Pig-tailed Macaques from a forested area in Bukit Berapit, near the Malaysia–Thailand border. They were sentenced to a MYR4,500 (USD1,282) fine or two months jail each.

On 4 March, three more Thai nationals were caught with several protected birds in Felda Kelian Intan, in Pengkalan Hulu district. The case is now before the courts.

In operations on 28 and 29 April in Sungai Mendelum, which lies within Perak state’s premier park—the Royal Belum Forest Reserve—authorities also uncovered poaching camps and confiscated six wire snares.

WWF-Malaysia’s previous surveys in Perak have also found signs of local and foreign encroachment and poaching along highways that provides the access points into such forest complexes