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Sunday August 29, 2010

Boas, vipers and mata-mata turtle among smuggler’s loot

PETALING JAYA: The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Per­hilitan) has confirmed detaining international wildlife trader Anson Wong at the KL International Airport (KLIA) on Aug 26.

Wong’s luggage broke on the conveyor belt and, upon inspection by Malaysia Airlines personnel, many snakes and a turtle were found, the department said in a press statement yesterday.

Perhilitan was then contacted and officers found 95 boa constrictors, two rhinoceros vipers and a mata-mata turtle.

The statement said Wong would be remanded until Aug 31 to facilitate investigation.

It is learnt that he was on transit from Penang to Jakarta when he was caught.

He has a record for wildlife trafficking and was jailed in the United States for 71 months in 2000.

The statement added that the boa constrictor was listed in Appendix II of the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 and Wong could be fined a maximum of RM100,000 for each animal or imprisoned up to seven years or both.

Wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC and World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia want the authorities to probe Wong for trading illegally in wildlife.

Commending the authorities on the arrest of Wong, they urged Malaysia to strictly enforce the International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008, a legislation that regulates international trade of wild animals and plants.

“This matter cannot be taken lightly. Malaysia must rise to the challenge to rival those fearlessly involved in wildlife smuggling.

“Their attempt at mocking Ma­­laysia’s legal system must be dealt with head-on.

“There is no excuse to be lax on a criminal offence of any nature,” said TRAFFIC South­east Asia senior programme officer Kanitha Krishnasamy.

WWF Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysious Sharma said that as a convicted wildlife smuggler, Wong should be given the maximum penalty under the CITES (Convention on Inter­national Trade in Endangered Species) Act, including revoking all his permits to trade wildlife if found guilty.

“We look forward to the Wildlife Department and the Malaysian judiciary working together to prosecute this offender to the full extent of the law,” he said.

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