Illegal wildlife trade attempts crippled

KUCHING: The Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has once again achieved positive results in its fight against illegal wildlife trade, crippling five more attempts, this time in Kapit.

Its chairman Datuk Len Talif Salleh revealed that on Oct 5, enforcement officers raided a premises and confiscated 148 pieces of hornbill ivory, 192 pieces of peacock feathers, 152 pieces of hornbill feathers, 16 pieces of pangolin scales, six deer antlers, three kijang (barking deer) antlers, 183 pieces of bear bile, 96 pieces of porcupine thorns, and various parts of wildlife yet to be identified.

“A 56-year-old suspect was caught red-handed, and a report was made to the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) when the enforcement officer was offered a bribe to not take action against the suspect.

“The other four cases involved selling of wild animals such as 35kg of softshell turtle meat, a live softshell turtle, peacock feathers, deer and kijang antlers and bear skull at Market Teresang in Kapit.”

Len, who is also Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Assistant Minister, said this when officiating at a workshop on illegal wildlife trade at Imperial Hotel here, yesterday.

As of Sept this year, 30 wildlife operations had been conducted, resulting in 1,000 wildlife rescued and 11 investigation papers opened, including the latest two involving caged sun bears in Demak Laut and Serian as well as a black hornbill rescued in Limbang.

Another effort included having SFC teams patrol markets weekly.

“I am happy that weekly patrols have contributed to a significant decline in illegal wildlife trade. To date, two Indonesian women were jailed one month and three months respectively for illegal possession of sea-turtle eggs.

“All these are good examples of SFC’s effectiveness as well as public tip-offs to assist in combating illegal wildlife trade,” Len commented.

Earlier, SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said illegal wildlife trade was the fourth most lucrative global crime after drugs, human trafficking and counterfeit products.

According to the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, the United Nations estimated the annual value of illegal wildlife trade to be worth USD7-23bil (RM28bil-RM92bil) and Malaysia was one of several Southeast Asian countries in which contraband such as rhino, tiger, pangolin and bear parts were moved through.

In a similar development, Len said that Sarawak had Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998 to provide for the protection of wildlife, whereby killing, keeping, selling, buying wildlife or its derivatives without licence or permit from the Controller of Wild Life are
prohibited by the law.

“However, the government realises that the protection accorded by the laws alone does not guarantee the survival of wildlife. That is why the realignments of State Forest Department (FDS) and SFC’s
functions are in the process.

“With the realignment, this will integrate their responsibilities so that it would not overlap with one another, especially between issuance of permit and wildlife enforcement. The realignment processes will be completed soon and latest by early next year,” Len added.