KUALA LUMPUR: Wildlife and wildlife parts worth about RM200,000 have been confiscated in one of the biggest wildlife cybercrime seizures this year.
A total of 631 wildlife, 20 wildlife parts and 30 wildlife eggs were seized under Ops Taring VI by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan), which conducted three raids between May 28 and June 6.
“We believe that the wildlife were meant to be sold as exotic pets. Some are believed to be sold to restaurants for exotic meat; while some wildlife parts are believed to be used for medicinal purposes and prayers,” Perhilitan director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim told a press conference yester-day.
On May 28, Perhilitan arrested a man and seized 43 reptiles and amphibians, as well as 20 animal parts when they raided a premises in Kampung Baru Bukit Merah, Ipoh.
On June 4, a 65-year-old man was arrested and 385 reptiles and amphibians, on top of 30 wildlife eggs, were seized when Perhilitan raided a place in Ampang, Selangor.
Both cases are being investigated under the Wildlife Conservation Act for storing wildlife without a licence from Perhilitan.
Then on June 6, Perhilitan caught a 32-year-old man at Seremban Gateway for possession of a white-handed gibbon without a licence.
Perhilitan also conducted a raid on the suspect’s house and found two unlicensed Asian palm civets.
The man was charged in Seremban’s Environment Court yesterday and was sentenced to three years in prison and fined RM20,000.
Abdul Kadir said the arrest on June 6 was made possible with the cooperation of Gibbon Protection Society Malaysia (GPSM) and Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka).
In a joint statement, GPSM and Peka said the seller was brazen enough to meet would-be buyers to transact a sale, resulting in his arrest.
Both NGOs noted a rise in incidences of advertisements and sale of protected species online, calling it a worrying trend.
“Endangered wildlife are advertised and offered blatantly by sellers via social media like Facebook and WhatsApp.
“Interested buyers would only need to bank in to the sellers without meeting the buyer,” they said.
“The endangered wildlife would then be sent by bus couriers and other methods to the buyer, from a secret location,” they added.
Under the Wildlife Conservation Act, selling and advertising protected wildlife without being in physical possession of the animal is not a prosecutable offence.
Abdul Kadir acknowledged that wildlife cybercrime had been on the rise, saying that it seemed to be a “new trend” in the illegal wildlife trade.
“We receive more than 50 online complaints every week. We would take down the pages selling illegal wildlife but they keep popping up again,” he said.
Judging from the seizures Perhilitan made over the years, Abdul Kadir said there was a demand for “exotic” wildlife in Malaysia.
“I advise the public not to be easily fooled by the advertisement of wildlife online, as a lot of the accounts try to scam the buyer.
“The seller will use old photos of the animal and ask the buyer to deposit money. Once they get the money, they will disappear,” he said.
Abdul Kadir also called for the public to be the “eyes and ears” of Perhilitan and report any suspicious activity to the department.
Reports can be lodged through Perhilitan’s hotline 1-800-88-5151 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) or www.wildlife.gov.my.