Join hands to curb illegal wildlife trade

WWF-Malaysia congratulates the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) on the successful efforts made during "Ops Taring VI".

Raids conducted between May 28 and June 6 resulted in several arrests that were all part of a key online illegal wildlife trade syndicate operating widely through social media networks.

In what is considered to be one of the biggest wildlife crime seizures in Malaysia this year, wildlife and wildlife parts amounting to an estimated RM200,000 have been confiscated.

A total of 631 wild animals, 20 wildlife parts and 30 wildlife eggs were seized. This includes 28 Indian star tortoises, 10 dusky langurs, six leopard cats, three civets and two hill mynas. All suspects are being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

In a separate incident, on May 27, Perhilitan Terengganu arrested two foreign poachers in Taman Negara suspected to be part of a larger team that may still be within the forest. These two men were in possession of over RM50,000 worth of wildlife and wildlife parts of bears and wild boars, as well as agar wood to be sold to the perfume industry.

Although efforts to curtail illegal poaching and trade have increased, the demand for exotic wildlife and wildlife parts has also equally increased, if not more. If culprits are not brought to justice promptly and face the full extent of the law, we will find ourselves living in a country that suffers from Empty Forest Syndrome. This results in the ecological extinction of many wild species and the reduction of biodiversity.

The illegal wildlife trade remains one of the greatest threats to wildlife conservation.

WWF-Malaysia has always advocated the need to have more intelligence-based teams to support special operations, and this operation is a successful example of how such targeted information can enable the authorities to effectively cripple wildlife poaching. Hence, the enforcement work by Perhilitan is highly commendable. However, there is still a need for operations to be scaled up in terms of coverage and intensity.

Protecting wildlife is not just the responsibility of enforcement agencies. It is a joint effort, which requires collaboration across NGOs, government, corporate
stakeholders and local communities.

We urge all Malaysians to play an active role in the protection and conservation of wildlife. Report wildlife crimes to the Perhilitan hotline (1-800-88-5151, office hours) or the Wildlife Crime Hotline - 0193564194.

Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma
Executive Director/CEO