Tag Archives: poaching

The story of Fulung – Part I

Photos credit: Colleen Tan 

**************************************************************

WARNING:

Very cute sun bear baby’s photos.

Yes, Fulung the sun bear cub is VERY cute!

NO! You cannot keep a sun bear baby as pet! Please report to the authority if you see any illegal sun bears being kept as pets.

 ******************************************************************

In early August I was informed that there was a sun bear baby being kept as a pet by a villager in Long Pasir, a remote small village located at southern most Sabah, close to the Sarawak boarder. After several phone calls, I was managed to communicate with Colleen Tan, a tourism coordinator for Long Pasir who visited the village on a regular basis. From her conversation and emails, I got to know the story of Fulung a lot better. Here is what Colleen wrote to me about Fulung the sun bear cub:

“An interesting story about a male sun bear from Long Pasia named FULUNG (Lundayeh Language) which mean “hutan” in Malay or forest. Last year 01 December 2010, I was there at the homestay first saw the baby sun bear  (age 2 months) I was told that the sun bear was rescued from the hunting dog in the Long Pasia jungle. The baby sun bear was seriously injured. The hunter brought back to home and feed it, care it, maybe they use traditional medicine, until recovery today, as you can see from the photos i took & attached herewith.

01_FULUNG-01Dec2010

02_FULUNG-01Dec2010

04_FULUNG-01Dec2010
The baby sun bear is very cute and roar at midnight, morning, afternoon & evening for milk, During his 3 months, can run and chase people in the family and very naughty. Not always in the cage but free to run outside in the house, play, and bath. It roars at stranger (visitor) for a while but then friendly. It seem that he knew the family member. The family called him FULUNG he recognized 🙂
05_FULUNG-02Jan2011

06_FULUNG-02Jan2011

During my visit to Long Pasia in January, February & May 2011, I took many photos of FULUNG. The sun bear is growing bigger and bigger and need more food. He will complaint if the porridge mixed with normal water and no sugar added in. He wanted rice + warm water + sugar, just like honey rice. They feed the baby sun bear with Dutch Lady & Nespray powder milk, banana, rice + warm water + sugar. I gave him mandarin orange and feed him banana. He plays the ball and sleep well and roar again when hungry. What a cute sun bear, living happily with the family?! But still belong to the forest.

09_FULUNG-03Feb2011

10_FULUNG-04May2011

The family wanted to put back to the forest after few months but think of him will be back to home looking for them, and worried about others hunter, so they decided to treat him as a pet for the time being. Although other visitor offer to buy the sun bear for what purpose I don’t know, but the family don’t want to sell, worried if the sun bear being killed for certain part of the body.”
12_FULUNG-04May2011

14_FULUNG-04May2011

To be continue…

Stay tuned!  

Again, YOU CANNOT KEEP A SUN BEAR AS PET! 

SUN BEARS ARE PROTECTED BY LAW IN ALL RANGE COUNTRIES. KEEPING SUN BEARS AS PETS IS A SERIOUS OFFENCE. YOU WILL BE FINE, IMPRESSION, AND CANE IF YOU DO SO!

Malaysia national holiday snared by poachers

Original posting at http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?201451/Malaysia-national-holiday-snared-by-poachers

 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia – Fresh snares set for tigers have been discovered by WWF-Malaysia’s monitoring team only a short distance from the country’s East-West Highway, a major road that connects Peninsular Malaysia’s northeast to its northwest. 

The discovery came just less than a month after the release of ‘On Borrowed Time’, a documentary that highlights the severity of the poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, a wildlife hotspot that is located in the northern state of Perak and crosses into Southern Thailand. 

“Since early August, 12 snares have been detected and deactivated by the team, with even more expected to be found in the area. Based on the sizes and types of snare, it is very clear that poachers are targeting large mammals such as tigers,” said Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma, CEO/Executive Director of WWF-Malaysia.

WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia immediately alerted the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) for the swift removal of these threats to wildlife.

Another camera-trap in the area captured a photo of possible poachers, just a day before the team trekked in to retrieve the cameras and detected the snares. The wire snares were camouflaged so well that the foot of one of the team’s field assistants had gotten caught in it.

The photo was shared with DWNP earlier this month to assist in their investigations.

WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia urge enforcement agencies to be vigilant in their monitoring and to conduct rigorous patrols on the ground. Poachers are likely to take advantage of the country’s national holiday period at the end August, which marks the end of Ramadan and Malaysia Independence Day. This is already evident from the snares that have been discovered in the past three weeks alone.

“It’s painfully clear that the poachers ravaging Malaysia’s wildlife are getting more efficient. This begs obvious questions about whether enforcement authorities are managing to keep pace with the criminals. Sadly, it appears that they are not. Even simple actions like regular patrolling and establishment of the planned multi-agency task force at Belum-Temengor are stalled,” said Dr. William Schaedla, Regional Director for TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

More alarmingly, a camera-trap placed in the area has also captured the photo of a three-footed Malayan sun bear. The injury seen in the photo is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare.

Under the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, any person who sets or uses any snare for the purpose of hunting can be subject to fines ranging from RM50,000 to RM100,000 (US$16,700 – US$33,500) and imprisonment for a maximum of two years.

At the launch of ‘On Borrowed Time’ last month in conjunction with World Tiger Day 2011, WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia called for a revitalisation of the Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Taskforce, the pursuit of poachers and encroachers to the full extent of the law and for all agencies working in the area to show equal effort and commitment towards enforcement.

From 2008 to 2010, 142 snares have been discovered and de-activated in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex. Over 400 wild animals, such as Sambar deer, pangolins, elephants and tigers have been poached inside the protected and numerous poacher camps have also been found.

THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

Illegal poaching in forest reserves raises concern

Original posting at http://news.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Malaysia/Story/A1Story20110828-296610.html

The Star/Asia News Network
Sunday, Aug 28, 2011
20110828_112010_bear

Above: A camera-trip image showing a three-footed Malayan sun bear, which could have been caught in one of the snares (inset) found by WWF-Malaysia.

By Lee Yen Mun

PETALING JAYA – Poachers are getting more cunning and efficient, and many quarters are questioning whether the enforcement authorities are able to catch up with them.

Animal rights groups and wildlife enforcement agencies have expressed concern that illegal poaching will increase at the Belum-Temengor forest reserve.

Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic regional director Dr William Schaedla, who said poachers in the country were getting increasingly “efficient”, blames the availability of access roads through protected areas of the forest for facilitating the illegal hunting.

Dr Schaedla said poachers had become more brazen, judging by the latest discovery of 12 fresh snares by the WWF-Malaysia monitoring team near the East West Highway.

The shocking find was made in the first three weeks of this month alone.

“Based on the evidence gathered, poaching activities are becoming more regular because of the absence of patrols.

“We are worried that more wild animals will end up in the cooking pot during the holidays,” Dr Schaedla said when contacted yesterday.

A camera image produced by WWF-Malaysia showed a three-footed Malayan sun bear, which the organisation believes lost a limb while trying to free itself from a trap.

The Malayan sun bear, easily identified by the distinct crescent patch on the animal’s chest, is an endangered species.

WWF-Malaysia and Dr Schaedla have raised questions over the ability of enforcement personnel in keeping pace with the criminals.

“Even simple actions like regular patrolling and setting up a multi-agency task force at Belum-Temengor have apparently stalled,” Dr Schaedla claimed.

WWF-Malaysia and Traffic South-East Asia have lodged reports of its findings with the Perak Wildlife and the National Parks Department (Perhilitan).

Perak Perhilitan chief Shabrina Mohd Shariff said there were many entry routes into the forest area, including the Royal Belum and Temengor forest reserves.

She, however, refuted the claims of animal rights groups that her department’s officers had slackened in their patrolling efforts.

The department, she said, deployed a team of four to patrol East West Highway entry points every day from 8am to 5pm.

“We know our presence is important in deterring poachers. However, the Royal Belum Forest Reserve is under the jurisdiction of the state government and not the department,” Shabrina said.

“Following the report by the animal rights group, the state Perhilitan sent a nine-man team to survey the location of the snares.

“We found the camping site of a group believed to be that of illegal immigrants from Thailand numbering four to six persons,” she said.

The discovery of the snares came less than a month after Traffic and WWF-Malaysia released a public documentary featuring the severity of illegal wildlife trade in the area.

Under the New Wildlife Conservation Act, any person who sets up or uses any snare for the purpose of hunting is liable to a fine of up to RM100,000 (S$40,500) and two years’ jail.

Evidence mounting on snared sun bears

The three-footed sun bear reported at The Bornean Post recently is not the first of its kind.

THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

The photo of this three-footed sun bear was captured by camera traps set by WWF Malaysia Team in the forest of Belum-Temengor Forest Reserve, northern West Malaysia. The bear was another victim of snares set to trap wildlife illegally in the forest. All terrestrial animals that roam the forest floor- from pheasants, lizards, pangolins, mouse deer, muntjacs, sambar deer, tigers, leopards, sun bears, tapirs, to elephants, can easily become targets of snares set by poachers in this region.

sn1

Snare or “jerat” in local Malay name, is a very common method of catching wildlife in this part of the world. The snares are simple, easy to construct and set, but effective and deadly to any wildlife that comes across its path. Only a piece of wire, cable, nylon rope, or heavy fishing line is needed from the poachers and the rest of the materials are taken from the surrounding to construct a snare: a tree sampling that act as a spring, few twigs as stepping board and triggering device. These snares are set on animal trails, near water wallows, salt licks, and other important wildlife traveling paths to increase successful catch. Sometime the poachers also construct simple but effective “fences” with a few small gaps (doors) where snares are set on these gaps. The fences drive/channel wildlife traveling on the forest floor to the gaps and the deadly snares. These fences often measured hundreds of meters with several dozens to a hundred of snares set on a “snare line” are norm to keen poachers.      

 Snare fence with a little "door" that funnel terrestrial wildlife into this particular spot with a snare loop set underneath this "door."

Snare fence with a little "door" that funnel terrestrial wildlife into this particular spot with a snare loop set underneath this "door."

Victims of snares typically being killed slowly from injuries at the snare sites, after days of struggling to break free from the snares before the poachers came to check for their captures. Injuries from doing so cause excessive blood loss, broken bones, dehydration, stress, and infection. In some rare cases, other predatory species may prey upon the snared victims for an easy meal. Some animals that were slightly luckier managed to break free from snares by either pulling and twisting the snares with immense force until it was broken (imagine that snares are typically made from steel cable, wire, nylon ropes, and heavy fishing lines, breaking those tough materials are not easy tusk), or, in most cases where the snares failed to break, their caught arm or feet, “broke”. In these cases, the victims deliberately chewed their paws/arm off so that their arm/feet can be freed from the snare and escaped. The escaped victims can either die slowly from these injuries from blood loss and infection, or, their body successfully fought the infection and wounds from the missing feet/arm/leg healed, such as this sun bear featured in this newspaper article.

With more researchers studying wildlife in Southeast Asia recently, we see more and more evidence of sun bears victimized by snares in the forest. This year alone, I have known of five different cases of sun bears being injured by snares. They represent a tip of an iceberg as many of the snared victims were injured and being killed unnoticed.   

These sun bears were the survivals of snared victims:

Krau Wildlife Reserve, Pahang, West Malaysia. I was on a field operation to assist a local Malaysia student trapping wild sun bear for a radio-telemetry study on March 2011, we caught this 77 kg male sun bear with a missing front paw. “Beruang kudung” or “the amputated bear” is what the local aborigines called him. The missing paw probably resulted from the bear chewed off his own paw in an attempt to escape from snare. The wound healed. The bear survived! Lucky bear indeed!

sb2

sn3

sn4

Two weeks earlier, the same team caught another male bears with old snared wound on his hind foot, and fresh snared wound on his front foot. This bear was snared at least twice!

Kerinchi National Park, Sumatra. 2011: Sun Bear researcher Wai Ming Wong from Kent University, UK., photographed this three-footed bear from camera trap. The wound on the foot was almost a clean cut like being amputated on a surgical table.

 sn5

Batang Turu Forest, Sumatra. 2011: Gabriella Frederickson, a well known sun bear biologist, set up camera traps in the forest reserve and took this picture of sun bear with two snare wounds in its right arm. Obviously the bear managed to escape with minor injuries. Will this bear be so lucky the next time when it is snare again?

 Capture

 

Belum-Temengor Forest Reserve, Perak, West Malaysia. 2011. WWF-Malaysia team working with tiger photographed this sun bear with missing paw with camera traps. 

THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

Danum Valley Conservation Area, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. On October 2007, three collage students from Germany who visited Danum Valley Field Center, saw a wild adult sun bear sitting on a open sandy ground beside of the Segama River, and concentrated licking on its arm, without noticing the presence of the students. The students watched the bears quietly and took photos and videos of the bear from the middle of the bridge. About 5 minutes later, the bear seems to pick up some sense from the air, sniffing and then limping away slowly. When the bear change its posture, the students can clearly see the bear’s left arm has a rounded open wound and a rope imbedded, and about a foot long rope was dangling at the other end. The left shoulder of the bear seems awkward, a bit out of place. The bear left the place.

After examined the photos and video clips they took, it seem clearly that the bear has a fresh wound from a snare set by poacher. The material of the snare seem to made from thick fishing lines and snapped off when the bear was pulling hard trying to escape. The struggling to escape seem intense as the rope cut through the bear’s skin, wounded the arm, and dislocate the socket on the left arm and thus the limping and awkward shoulder. The bear has a black sleek coat but emaciated with protruding ribs, hip, and leg bones. I strongly believe that the bear will slowly die from unable to feed properly with the injured arm. Read more about this snared sun bear here.

IMG_6560a

IMG_6563a

IMG_6566a

There is no question that poaching is a big threat of the survival of many wildlife in this region including sun bear. Saving wildlife from the hand of poachers is not just the job for law enforcement agencies but a responsibility for all of us at difference levels in the society. In development countries such as all the range countries of sun bears in SE Asia, enforcement of wildlife protection laws is not a high priority because of limited resources and lack of interest from the authorities. This is why the participations by people ranging from local communities to international NGOs and individual is becoming even more important, if we were to combat poachers and save our wildlife from extinction.

Please report any unlawful poaching and wildlife exploitation activities to the local wildlife authorities. If you have more information about poaching, snaring, and other illegal activities on sun bear, please contact me at [email protected] or calling +60 16 555 1256. 

More readings in poaching and snaring activities here:

We need your help to protect wildlife in Malaysia

Plight of the wild sun bears

 Category Archives: poaching

Poachers still ravaging M’sia’s wildlife

Poachers still ravaging M’sia’s wildlife

Original posting at:

http://www.theborneopost.com/2011/08/27/poachers-still-ravaging-m%E2%80%99sia%E2%80%99s-wildlife/

THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

 

PETALING JAYA: Fresh snares set for tigers have been discovered by a WWF-Malaysia monitoring team a mere distance away from the East-West highway in the peninsula.

The discovery came less than a month after the release of a documentary which highlighted the severity of poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, said WWF-Malaysia in a press statement yesterday.

“Since early August, 12 snares had been detected and deactivated by the team, with even more expected to be found in the area. Based on the sizes and types of snare, it is very clear that poachers are targeting large mammals such as tigers,” said Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma, chief executive officer and eexecutive director of WWF-Malaysia.

WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia immediately alerted the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) for the swift removal of these threats to wildlife.

Another camera-trap in the area captured a photo of possible poachers, just a day before the team trekked in to retrieve the cameras and detected the snares. The wire snares were camouflaged so well that the foot of one of the team’s field assistants had gotten caught in it. This photo was shared with DWNP earlier this month to assist in their investigations.

WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia urged the enforcement agencies to be vigilant in their monitoring and to conduct rigorous patrols on the ground as poachers were likely to take advantage of the long break when people were away on holidays, evident from the snares that had been discovered in the past three weeks alone.

“It’s painfully clear that the poachers ravaging Malaysia’s wildlife are getting more efficient. This begs obvious questions about whether enforcement authorities are managing to keep pace with the criminals. Sadly, it appears that they are not. Even simple actions like regular patrolling and establishment of the planned multi-agency task force at Belum-Temengor are stalled,” said Dr William Schaedla, regional director for TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

More alarmingly, a camera-trap placed in the area had also captured the photo of a three-footed Malayan sun bear. The injury seen in the photo was consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare.

Under the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, any person who sets or uses any snare for the purpose of hunting is liable to a fine not less than RM50,000 and up to RM100,000, and imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

At the launch of ‘On Borrowed Time’ last month in conjunction with World Tiger Day 2011, WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia called for a revitalisation of the Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Taskforce, the pursuit of poachers and encroachers to the full extent of the law and for all agencies working in the area to show equal effort and commitment towards enforcement.

‘On Borrowed Time’ can be viewed on the WWF-My and Traffic network Youtube pages.

 

No CONDENSED MILK for HONEY BEAR! (in Chinese)

Original posted at http://sandakantours.blogspot.com/2011/08/blog-post_09.html

Text: Jasmine Soon Yean

s1

 

s2

s3

From jungle to suitcase, Southeast Asia’s wildlife faces a bleak future

Repost from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/from-jungle-to-suitcase-southeast-asias-wildlife-faces-a-bleak-future/story-e6frg6z6-1226108592780

From jungle to suitcase, Southeast Asia’s wildlife faces a bleak future

  • Sian Powell
  • From: The Australian
  • August 06, 2011 12:00AM
Rescued panther

A panther seized from luggage at Bangkok airport. Picture: AFP/Ho/Freeland Foundation Source: AFP

FOUR leopard cubs, a sunbear cub, a marmoset and a baby gibbon: just some of the menagerie found in suitcases at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport.

Hundreds of protected Indian and Burmese star tortoises, again found in baggage at the airport. A bear farm in Laos, where bear bile was routinely extracted for human health tonics, finally closed down by the authorities. Unregistered leopards found at a rural Thai tiger zoo long suspected of trafficking big cats. A truck in northeastern Thailand found to be carrying five boxes of monitor lizards, 17 boxes of pythons and 84 boxes of rat snakes. Two Vietnamese men arrested for killing 15 langurs in a national park.

These events of only the past few months represent a tiny slice of the vast Asian wildlife trade in poaching, smuggling and dealing in protected species and their organs, flesh, bones, skin and scales. The trade is huge, feeding a rapacious appetite for traditional medicines made from endangered species, as well as a hunger for ivory ornaments, wild meat and exotic pets.

Late last year, in an unguarded moment, a Vietnamese government official estimated that between 4000 and 4500 tonnes of wildlife were smuggled through Vietnam each year. Washington-based research and advocacy group Global Financial Integrity, using information provided by conservation groups Traffic and WWF, earlier this year said the illegal trade in wildlife generated up to $US10 billion ($9.3bn) annually. This pushes it into the top rank of illicit global markets, after counterfeiting and illegal trafficking in drugs, humans and oil.

Small scaly pangolins, which are eaten and used in traditional medicines, were until fairly recently heavily traded to China from Mekong nations, such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Now, wildlife experts say, pangolins have become difficult to find in the Mekong region and the tiny frozen carcasses are more commonly sent from south Sumatra in Indonesia, Malaysia and The Philippines. Thailand, though, remains a hub for the illicit trade, with networks funnelling live and dead animals and animal parts to eager purchasers.

Last year, an Interpol probe, Operation Tram, zeroed in on traditional medicines that used ingredients from protected species. Australian seizures during the operation included hippopotamus penises and more than 100 boxes of bear bile. Two-thirds of illegal wildlife and wildlife product seizures in Australia (of a total 4014 seizures last year) are traditional medicines containing ingredients from endangered species.

Justin Gosling, a criminal intelligence officer with Interpol’s environmental crime program, says wildlife crime must become a priority.

“Until five years ago, wildlife crime was not considered a big deal by enforcement agencies,” Gosling says. “Drugs and terrorism are seen as more important, but environmental crime is a far greater danger to communities.”

Police need to track the traders, arrest them, seize their mobile phones, retrieve all the numbers and arrest more people in the network, he believes. But corruption is rife, and the wildlife trade is widely seen by the criminal classes as low risk and a good earner.

Gosling says police across the region need to refocus their efforts on the wholesalers, rather than the poachers or transporters, who often escape prosecution and, even if convicted, are given lenient penalties. “Meanwhile, the big guys are still sitting in their luxury apartments,” he says.

Environment laws are regularly flouted across Asia. In Vietnam, it’s illegal to sell bears, to transport bears, to hunt bears and to extract bear bile. Yet bear bile tourism to Vietnam continues to flourish. Many people believe the bile, particularly that from wild bears, can cure numerous ailments.

A recent report by the wildlife trade monitoring organisation Traffic found the bile of up to 3000 bears held by 750 Vietnamese bear farms was regularly extracted for tourists and other consumers. Bears are kept in farms for years on end, their bile extracted via a catheter or a permanent fistula or they are simply knocked out and their bile is removed. It is then imbibed by coachloads of tourists in search of a pick-me-up.

Bears are strong animals, Gosling says, otherwise the practice would kill them more quickly. In any case, the bear bile trade is one of the longest lasting cruelties in the repertoire of traditional medicine. And although the bears are kept on farms, that doesn’t mean they form a self-sustaining population. The Traffic report found only four of the 34 bear farms visited by the researchers had captive breeding programs.

Chris Shepherd, deputy regional director for Southeast Asia at Traffic, fears Asian wildlife has a bleak future.

He is overseeing a training session for Suvarnabhumi airport staff to learn how to recognise smuggled ivory. The lessons are bearing fruit: there have been several ivory seizures at the airport in recent months.

The illegal wildlife trade, Shepherd says, is thriving. “It’s not a pretty picture,” he says, citing tigers as an example. “They’re being absolutely hammered. We’ve lost so many tigers over the past couple of years. Anywhere there are tigers, there are people trying to kill them. Here in Southeast Asia, it’s the meat and bones. It’s something rare, something illegal; it’s impressive if you eat it. It’s worth a lot of money.”

The trade is pervasive. Thai tiger farms have been nabbed illegally selling surplus cubs; tiger-bone glue, made from bones that have been boiled, dried and ground into a powder, is a popular medicine in Vietnam; Chinese tiger farms reportedly serve “king meat” and tiger-bone wine in on-site restaurants. Gosling says Vietnam, China, Thailand and probably Burma and Laos have tiger farms or tiger parks that foster the trade in body parts.

Shepherd says it is too easy to trap animals. “Snaring animals is cheap, it’s the cost of the price of wire,” he adds. “It’s a brake cable for a snare. Dealers will often tell customers the birds or animals are captive-bred. But they’re very often not. It’s expensive to keep and breed animals in captivity; it’s much easier to catch them.”

Like Gosling, Shepherd thinks the key to putting a dent in the rampant trade is enforcement.

“I think people just don’t care. But they would care if they were in jail for five or 10 years and had time to think about it. Sure, I think we should keep educating the consumers, encouraging acceptable substitutes. But if you don’t treat it as a crime, it’s not going to change.”

In more central city markets, such as those in Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur, the illegal wildlife trade has been pushed underground. But the flourishing border markets, which Shepherd monitors, are notorious for their large and varied wildlife trade.

“It’s a free-for-all,” Shepherd says bleakly. “The last time I was in Mong La [a town on the China-Burma border], they brought a bear cub out. They killed it and took its gall bladder out. I took photos.”

Meanwhile, in Thailand, police colonel Kiattipong Khasam-Ang says he believes nearly all tiger parks in Thailand illegally sell cubs. Each cub fetches about 400,000 baht, or $12,500, depending on weight. Last year undercover police pretended to be from Thailand’s anti-government red-shirt movement and negotiated the purchase of a cub. Its blood, the undercover officers told the traders, would be used for a ritual. The traders were arrested, the cub saved. Recently environmental crime division officers announced they had arrested another Thai man in connection with the case.

The protected wildlife trade is worth a lot of money, he says, and the main criminal figures could be difficult to pin down.

“We have some names of Mr Bigs in Thailand,” Kiattipong adds. “One owns a tiger farm; she knows she is being investigated. Our work is ongoing.”

In recent years Chinese medicine has become a substantial field in Australia and degrees in Chinese medicine have even been introduced in some Australian universities. All practitioners have to be registered and Lin Tzi Chiang, president of the Federation of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Societies of Australia, says close to $200 million worth of traditional Chinese medicine and ingredients are imported into Australia each year. But, he says, threatened species form no part of those medicines.

Even so, each year Australian Customs officers seize thousands of bottles and packages of traditional medicines made from threatened species ingredients – meat, blood, skin, bile, and bone – as well as protected plant species. And these ingredients mostly come from Asia.

In Vietnam, environmentalists worry about the silence of the northern forests. A few years ago, Indonesian traders sent 25 tonnes of freshwater turtles to China each week, to be sold as food with medicinal properties. Now, conservationists say, there are too few remaining turtles to make the poaching worthwhile.

Police general Misakawan Buara, who commands a force of 470 staff at the Royal Thai Police division of natural resources and environment crime, has a fair idea who some of the big illegal wildlife traders are in Thailand, but he won’t name names.

“I cannot tell you, I don’t have proof. It’s very hard to catch people like that. I suspect [them], but maybe I will lose [in court].” He knows trading and poaching has reached alarming levels across the nation. “If we keep going like this, some time soon in Thailand there will be no animals.”

article-0-0C0A5FB100000578-909_634x452

article-0-0C09111200000578-138_634x417

 

article-0-0C0A681700000578-454_634x286

article-0-0C0A84AE00000578-432_306x423

article-0-0C0A61C400000578-904_306x390

How to fight organized wildlife crime in East Asia

Repost from http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0727-hance_wildlifecrime_seasia.html

How to fight organized wildlife crime in East Asia
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
July 27, 2011

 Slow lorises, like these caged individuals, are imperiled in Southeast Asia for the illegal pet trade. In the wild, traders kill loris parents to take their babies. Pet lorises have their teeth pulled out to make them appear 'cuter'. Photo courtesy of the Wildlife Conservaiton Society (WCS).
Slow lorises, like these caged individuals, are imperiled in Southeast Asia for the illegal pet trade. In the wild, traders kill loris parents to take their babies. Pet lorises have their teeth pulled out to make them appear ‘cuter’. Photo courtesy of the Wildlife Conservaiton Society (WCS).

Organized criminal syndicates are wiping out some of the world’s most charismatic wildlife to feed a growing appetite for animal parts in East Asia#8212;and so far governments and law enforcement are dropping the ball. This is the conclusion from a new paper in Oryx, which warns unless officials start taking wildlife crime seriously a number of important species could vanish from the Earth.

“We are failing to conserve some of the world’s most beloved and charismatic species,” Elizabeth Bennett, author of the paper, said in a press release. “We are rapidly losing big, spectacular animals to an entirely new type of trade driven by criminalized syndicates. It is deeply alarming, and the world is not yet taking it seriously. When these criminal networks wipe out wildlife, conservation loses, and local people lose the wildlife on which their livelihoods often depend.”

Organized criminals are decimating some of the world’s favorite species: rhinos, elephants, and tigers are all imperiled by the bloody trade. However, the trade has also hit lesser-known species, such as pangolins, saiga, slow lorises, sun bears, and any number of bird and reptile species. The consequences of this trade are massive: tigers are down to a few thousand survivors, two species of rhino are now dubbed Critically Endangered, the saiga antelope has seen its population drop by 95 percent in two decades, and many forests in Southeast Asia have been described as eerily quiet due to a lack of wildlife.

 
Songbirds sold in a Laos market for food. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

 

 

Songbirds sold in a Laos market for food. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

In the struggle to save these species from the illegal trade, officials are being out-witted and out-funded by sophisticated smugglers who employ the newest technology, clever techniques, and corruption to avoid arrest. Perhaps, even more importantly, wildlife crime is simply not seen as a priority in many parts of the world, where enforcement is lacking and laws are out-of-date.

“The trade is large-scale and commercialized: elaborate and costly hidden compartments in shipping containers or below wholesale shipments of sawn timber, fish or scrap products, in which are concealed massive quantities of wildlife products from ivory to bear paws and frozen pangolins. The traders are also light on their feet, frequently changing routes and modes of operation as enforcement commences in any one place, and continually working through the routes and means of least resistance. […] Trade through e-commerce from web sites whose location is difficult to detect and who operate beyond the current realms of wildlife legislation and enforcement is a further challenge,” Bennett, who began her career in conservation more than 25 years ago in Asia, writes in the paper. She now works for Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).

Bennett says the ultimate responsibility for this wholesale decimation of species is due to rising demand for wildlife products in countries like China, Vietnam, and Thailand. In many cases consumers are paying high prices for illegal wildlife products which they believe are curatives. However scientists have shown that animal parts such as rhino horns have no medicinal benefits whatsoever.

According to Bennett there is only one way to stop the criminal activity in time to save species from extinction: law enforcement.

“Enforcement is critical: old fashioned in concept but needing increasingly advanced methods to challenge the ever-more sophisticated methods of smuggling. When enforcement is thorough, and with sufficient resources and personnel, it works,” she writes. Although ‘old-fashioned’ Bennett says tools such as DNA testing kits, smartphone apps for species ID, and high-tech software for Internet crime need to be employed.

Currently enforcement is especially lacking along trade routes and in markets. In many parts of Southeast Asia one can finds illegal wildlife parts sold openly with no fear of punishment.

“We must dedicate the intellectual, funding and personnel resources needed to supersede those of the criminal organizations involved,” she writes. “This requires greatly increased numbers of highly trained and well equipped staff at all points along the trade chain: most especially in core sites where the species are being hunted but also along key transportation routes and in end markets.”

  Dealer shows off coats of wild cats in market in China. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Dealer shows off coats of wild cats in market in China. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laws that were crafted before the current crisis of the illegal trade also must be updated.

Bennett says that changing the cultural beliefs that prop up this illegal trade should pursued, but laments that such changes ‘is likely to be on a generational time scale.’

“We do not have that luxury of time for many of the species currently targeted by trade,” she explains. “In the short-term the only practical way to reduce demand is through enforcement, both acting as a deterrent and also demonstrating that this is not a socially acceptable norm,” Bennett writes.

In the end, the survival of elephants, tigers, and rhinos, along with innumerable other species, depends on law enforcement, the judiciary, governments, NGOs, and the public coming together to tackle the below-the-radar problem.

“Unless we start taking wildlife crime seriously and allocating the commitment of resources appropriate to tackling sophisticated, well-funded, globally-linked criminal operations, population of some of the most beloved but economically prized, charismatic species will continue to wink out across their range, and, appallingly, altogether,” Bennett warns.

CITATION: Elizabeth L. Bennett. Another inconvenient truth: the failure of enforcement systems to save charismatic species. Oryx. doi:10.1017/S003060531000178X.

On Borrowed Time

‘On Borrowed Time’, launched in conjunction with World Tiger Day 2011, trains a spotlight on the poaching crisis in Belum-Temengor and calls for the problem to be put on the national agenda. These forests in northern Perak are of critical importance for the conservation of tigers and other endangered species, yet research and monitoring by WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia since 2008 have documented decimation of the wildlife by relentless illegal hunting, with little standing in poachers’ way.

Filmed by award-winning Malaysian documentary makers Novista for WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/_Xv6aLd15yM" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Perhilitan’s animal insticts

As long as there’s demand, illegal meat trade will flourish, says Perhilitan head
Friday, July 15th, 2011 14:26:00

  

The Malay Mail spoke to Perhilitan director-general DATUK ABD RASID SAMSUDIN (left) yesterday about what the department is doing to tackle the issue.

MM1407MA02
sunbear
Q: Why do restaurants persist in serving dishes made from the meat of exotic and endangered species?

A: It is about demand and supply. If there is no demand for such meat, it would not be sold. For example, during the raid on July 6, there were a variety of meat being served at the restaurant but people preferred to eat dishes made from the meat of the Malayan sun bear. The case is still under investigation.

Q: Where do these restaurant operators get their supply of such meat?

A: They go through a middlemen. Orang asli, who have access to national parks and forests in the Peninsular, are being paid a small sum to hunt for the meat. It is a pity the orang asli are being used this way as many do it for the money.

In the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, orang asli are allowed to hunt for endangered wildlife such as deer and ayam hutan (jungle fowl) but only enough to feed themselves. Imagine, an orang asli is paid only RM380 for each Pangolin they catch, which isn’t much. However, we are not blaming their community as they are being taken advantage of by irresponsible parties.

Q: Who is tipping-off Perhilitan on such illegal trade?

A: We are proud to say we receive tip-offs from the public. More people are becoming aware of such trade and when they give us accurate information, we give them a small reward.

Q: Does Perhilitan monitor restaurants in the Klang Valley suspected of selling exotic dishes?

A: Yes. We have identified several hotspots in the Klang Valley, such as in Subang Jaya, where restaurants serve exotic dishes. Some restaurants have been raided many times but they still serve those dishes, so we have to constantly monitor them. Our aim is to find their main supplier.

Q: How many illegal traders have been arrested and charged?

A: In the last five years, we arrested and charged 170 individuals under the Wildlife Conservation Act.

Q: What action has Perhilitan taken to tackle this menace?

A: We constantly monitor our national forests. There are several laws enshrined in the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, which we enforce, such as Subsection 62, which states anyone who hunts or keeps the female of a protected species without a licence shall be liable to a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both.

Meanwhile, Subsection 63 stipulates any person who carries out wildlife trade or taxidermy without a licence shall be liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment up to two years or both, upon conviction.

Q: How many animal species are protected by Perhilitan?

A: There are 2,120 protected endangered species and subspecies. We also protect several non-endangered animals, such as wildboar and monkeys, in order to preserve the natural habitat.

Q: Which protected species or animal products are the most traded in and out of Malaysia?

A: The three most traded are pangolin, wildboar and clouded monitor. Others include murai batu (white-rumped shama) and merbah telinga merah (red-whiskered bulbul) bird nests.

WILDLIFE authorities in the country have long been fighting to stem the tide of illegal trade of the meat of endangered species in the country. The issue was recently brought to the fore after a raid by the Department of Wildlife and National Park (Perhilitan) led to the discovery of 1.27kg of meat, supposedly that of the endangered Malayan sun bear, being served in a restaurant in Jalan Kuching.