Clamp down on illegal wildlife parts trade, say groups

PETALING JAYA: The rising cases of Malaysia being a transit point for the illegal wildlife parts trade is serious and has far-reaching consequences including animal extinction in the region.

Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said more stringent measures should be taken to deter would-be wildlife traffickers.

“The value of the poached animals is rather high resulting in an alarming number of exotic animals killed for commercial gains. This will inevitably diminish the species within years.

“This has to stop, otherwise we will have a crisis on our hands,” Shariffa Sabrina said.

She was asked to comment on the discovery of a massive cache of wildlife parts – elephant tusks and pangolin scales – worth RM80.5mil found in a container by the Customs and Excise Department at Teluk Sepanggar, Sabah.

The Aug 29 attempt by an international syndicate using the country’s port as a transit point to smuggle out the cache was thwarted.

Last July, the world’s largest seizure of ivory took place in Hong Kong when more than seven tonnes arrived in a shipping container from Malaysia.

The 7,200kg shipment – valued at RM39.1mil – was uncovered by the authorities in the former British colony, highlighting the huge demand in the illegal ivory trade.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature (Malaysia) CEO and executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma congratulated Customs over the recent confiscation of illegal wildlife parts.

“This is a huge crime against wildlife, especially as elephants and pangolins are also currently threatened by habitat loss and low reproductive rates.

“Each adult female for both species can only produce an offspring at a time and in the case of an elephant, it has the longest pregnancy period of all mammals, which lasts more than a year and a half.

“Therefore, the death of even one member of the species has a major impact on the whole population.

“I call upon the state government of Sabah, and federal agencies to share resources such as manpower and intelligence to clamp down on illegal wildlife trade,” he said in a statement.

Dr Sharma said WWF Malaysia remains committed to fighting wildlife crime by providing technical expertise and sharing information with government agencies, such as the district anti-poaching task force in Sabah.

“We must show the world that we mean business when it comes to the survival of wildlife.

“Therefore, let us all work toget­her so that Sabah will no longer be a transit point for the illegal wildlife trade.

“Together, everything is possible,” he added.

WWF Malaysia Dr Sharma