PETALING JAYA: From as low as RM3 for a one-year licence from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan), Malaysians can legally own animals whose numbers are declining in the wild.
Depending on the species, the licence fee varies from RM3 to own a scorpionidae, RM5 (Burmese python), RM10 (short-tailed parrot) to RM20 for animals protected under Malaysian laws.
The law stipulates that only exotic animals bred in captivity can be sold in shops. However, there appears to be little checks on this.
Traffic South-East Asia senior communications officer Elizabeth John said animals categorised under Appendix II of CITES could only be traded internationally with proper permits and licences.
(Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora states that the species will face extinction unless poaching from the wild is controlled.)
“We don’t know where the traders are getting it from,” she said, adding that pet shops should seek verification on the origin of the animals.
Under the law, when a pet owner buys an animal, he must take it to a veterinarian who would then insert a microchip in it. In cases of birds, a ring would be attached.
After that, the new owner only has to bring the animal, his identity card, the receipt for the purchase of the animal, a utility bill (if the owner is living on a landed property) or a letter from the maintenance office to Perhilitan to apply for a licence.
Despite these easy steps to get a licence, there seems to be no awareness or urgency from pet owners to obtain it.
“When you buy an animal from us, we will issue you a receipt. Just bring it (the receipt) to Perhilitan and you can apply for the licence,” said a trader during a visit by The Star to an exotic pet shop in Petaling Jaya.
A visit to another exotic animal shop in Kuala Lumpur showed a similar scenario.
When the seller was asked where his supply came from, he remained silent. He said the onus was on the buyer to apply for the licence to own the exotic animals.
“You don’t need to have a licence to buy the animal, you can buy it first and then apply for licence.”
“They (the authorities) won’t check your house lah,” he added.
They however, stated that they had the CITES permits, as required by Perhilitan, to sell them.
Perhilitan enforcement division director Hasnan Yusop said owners of these animals must have a licence to keep the pets.
“We will only issue licences for owners to keep wild animals bought from traders authorised by Perhilitan.”
“These traders have operating licences from Perhilitan and each transaction made by them must be recorded,” said Hasnan.