KUALA LUMPUR: A syndicate specialising in smuggling exotic and protected species of birds was crippled with the arrests of three gang members.
A total of 87 live “burung murai batu” (magpies) hidden in eight makeshift plastic cages were rescued during a pre-dawn raid at a house in Kampung Tanjung Gahai, Bukit Betong near Kuala Lipis.
Personnel from the Wildlife Crime Unit of the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) also found several jungle fowl, parakeets and parrots kept in cages in the house.
Perhilitan enforcement division director Hasnan Yusop said acting on a tip-off and week-long surveillance, his officers raided the premises at about 6.45am on Friday.
Hasnan said three suspects, believed to be smugglers and wildlife traders, aged between 20 and 50, were detained to assist investigations under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.
“Checks showed the suspects had no special permit or licence to keep protected wildlife.
“If convicted, they face a fine of up to RM100,000 or a jail term up to three years, or both,” he told The Star in an e-mail.
Hasnan said investigations also showed that the suspects had used the house to keep the fowl before they were smuggled to a neighbouring country.
He said the suspects had been active in the illegal trade for the past few months and had raked in good profits from the sale of protected species of animals and birds.
“Each bird of the murai batu species can fetch a price of between several hundred to thousands of ringgit.
“We are still investigating how the suspects got hold of the fowl and tracking down the mastermind and other gang members in the course of our investigations,” he said.