PETALING JAYA: The proposal to arm wildlife and forest enforcement officers has been raised and praised in a number of forums by conservation groups.
Calling it a good initiative, Malaysian Nature Society president Henry Goh said the proposal was an added measure to protect wildlife.
“For various reasons, this has not been carried out. Firearms will provide a measure for the officers to protect themselves as well as be a deterrent to poachers,” he said.
Goh was commenting on The Star report that the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry was looking at arming the officers.
Its minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had said that under Section 8 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, National Wildlife and National Parks Department enforcement officers were authorised to carry weapons while on duty.
Traffic South-East Asia regional director Dr Chris R. Shepherd said wildlife officers and rangers around the world were increasingly coming under threat because poachers and organised crime networks were involved in illegal wildlife trade.
“The poachers and criminal gangs are well funded and well armed. There are a number of cases where these officers have been shot, wounded and even killed in the line of duty.
“They are up against great odds, risking their lives to protect an area and wildlife,” he said.
Dr Shepherd said Malaysia has very strong laws, especially in the peninsula, when it comes to wildlife conservation but continues to be plagued by illegal wildlife trade.
“Increasing penalties may be helpful but ultimately, disrupting the wildlife crime networks from top to bottom and removing the kingpins is important,” he said.