MELAKA: It is only three weeks into the year and already four attempts to smuggle animals or bush meat into and out of the country have been foiled.
On Wednesday, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) thwarted an attempt to smuggle seven pythons through a courier service in Larkin, Johor.
The sender, who is believed to be from Taiwan, had declared the package as toys.
It is not known whether the reptiles were alive when found.
On Jan 13, Kelantan police detained a 25-year-old man from Manir, Kuala Terengganu, with 61 butchered pieces of wild boar from Thailand.
A day earlier, Perhilitan seized 171 boxes of turtle shells and 11 boxes of dried seahorses at a computer store in Section 15, Shah Alam, Selangor.
On Jan 16, smugglers flung cages containing 300 exotic birds, including rare songbirds, into the sea when they were spotted by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) about five nautical miles from the Tanjung Gabang waters near Selangor.
Only three birds were saved.
MMEA Melaka and Negri Sembilan director Capt Amran Daud said officers from its Kuala Linggi base arrested three Indonesians on the boat.
Capt Amran said the suspects did not have identification documents and the case has been referred to Perhilitan.
He said the wildlife smugglers were believed to have sourced the birds from Vietnam and travelled overland through Thailand and Malaysia to sell them in Indonesia.
Melaka Perhilitan director Noorzakiahanum Mohd Noh is trying to verify the species of the birds.
Some Vietnamese songbirds can sell for up to US$1,000 (RM3,940) in the United States.
The illegal trade is also fuelled by the popularity of bird-singing competitions in several South-East Asian countries.
Wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, in its report, revealed that in April 2016, the MMEA found 100 Oriental magpie-robins on a boat that was also ferrying illegal immigrants from Indonesia.
In 2015, MMEA intercepted an Indonesian boat with 150 Oriental magpie-robins headed for Malaysia and in 2013, it stopped an Indonesian national attempting to smuggle 10 cockatoos into Malaysia.
TRAFFIC said the Melaka incident also confirmed the persistent illegal trapping and smuggling of wild birds in the region and Indonesia’s thriving caged bird trade.
TRAFFIC acting regional director for South-East Asia Kanitha Krishnasamy was quoted as saying on the organisation’s website that collaboration between countries is crucial to end the flourishing bird trade across Asia.