PETALING JAYA: Taking care of seized wildlife may be challenging, but it certainly is not very difficult, says a former Zoo Negara official.
Former Zoo Negara assistant director Datuk Dr S. Vellayan said given the correct living conditions and nutrition, these animals could survive.
He said many of those handling the seized animals in Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) have no proper training on wildlife husbandry, hence leading to complications in keeping the rescued animals alive.
He said many of the officers assigned to look after the animals would employ a trial and error method instead.
Dr Vellayan, currently an associate professor at the Puncak Alam campus of Universiti Teknologi Mara, said taking care of wildlife, whether in zoos or a conservation facility requires people with zoological knowledge and experience to understand wildlife physiology and nutritional needs.
“The department also needs funds to send their rangers and veterinarians, who are seconded from the Veterinary Department, to go on specialised courses on wildlife management,” he said.
Currently, many of Perhilitan’s officers, rangers and veterinarians managing the wildlife rescued and welfare centres lack formal training in wildlife husbandry and medicine. Many of them learned their skills on the job, he said.
“Perhilitan needs to draw up better standard operating procedures, including record-keeping as it is important to note observations like food intake and changes to the animals’ condition,” he said.
Dr Vellayan said the lack of knowledge of animals’ diet could also lead to their death.
The Star yesterday reported that thousands of protected animals seized by Perhilitan have died in the hands of the authority in the past year due to mishandling.
These animals, many of which are endangered species and exotic, were being smuggled or kept illegally by local pet owners when they were seized.