MIRI: Some 54 endangered wildlife of various species have been rescued from pet shops here following a major raid by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) enforcement units.
The raids against these pet shops, believed to be acting as fronts to sell wildlife for huge commercial profits, were carried out in seven premises in Miri.
Among the totally-protected and protected wildlife rescued were long-tailed macaques, rare big-bird Hill Myna, near-extinct birds like Budgies, Love Birds, Red Whiskered Bulbul, rare parrots, exotic Cherry Head, exotic Indian Star Tortoises, Red Footed Tortoises and rare green lizards.
SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said the raids were carried out following public tip-offs about the illegal activities taking place in these Miri petshops.
"Acting on information from the public, we inspected and raided seven pet shops in Miri on July 15 to 18.
"We rescued 54 wildlife animals. Commercial transaction, illegal procession of wildlife contravenes the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
"Procession of these wildlife illegally is a serious crime," he told reporters here Saturday (July 20).
Zolkipli warned that anyone who caught and supplied wildlife to these pet shops were also committing a serious crime.
"Anyone who hunts, trap, capture, kill, import, export, possess, offer for sale and sell any totally protected and protected animal or the body-parts are committing a serious crime too.
"They can be fined between RM10,000 to RM50,000 and jailed between one to five years," Zolkipli added.
Members of the public who have information about these wildlife abuses are urged to alert the SFC hotlines immediately.
Kuching SFC hotlines are 019-8859996, 016-8565564; Sibu 019-8190140, 019-8894474; Bintulu 019-8223449, 019-8332737; Miri 019-8224566 and 019-8290994.
There have been many complaints from locals and expatriates that many pet shops in Miri were selling animals in cruel, cramped conditions.
The Star learned that among those who frequently buy these wildlife were foreigners from a neighbouring country who would buy from the pet shops and smuggle them across the border into Brunei.
These animals fetched thousands of Brunei dollars each as they are considered priced trophies by the rich people there.
It is said that a baby Hornbill and baby macaque can fetch up to 5,000 Brunei dollars each.