KUCHING: The Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) seized hundreds of wildlife parts and arrested a man in five cases in Kapit last weekend, says its chairman Datuk Len Talif Salleh.
He said SFC enforcement officers raided the premises on Oct 5 and seized 148 pieces of hornbill ivory, peacock fur (192 pieces), hornbill feathers (152 pieces), pangolin scales (16 pieces), bear bile (183 pieces), porcupine quills (96 pieces), six deer antlers, three kijang (barking deer) antlers and other parts of wild animals that have yet to be identified.
"The 56-year-old suspect was caught red-handed and a report made to the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission when he offered a bribe to the enforcement officer not to take action against him," he said when opening a workshop on illegal wildlife trade here on Wednesday (Oct 9).
Len Talif said the other four cases involved the selling of wild animals and parts, including 35kg of softshell turtle meat, a live softshell turtle, peacock fur, deer and kijang antlers and a bear skull, at the Teresang Market in Kapit.
He told reporters later that the seized wildlife parts were mainly meant for locals as they were sold in the market.
However, he said some of it might have ended up in the international market, especially the bear bile which is sought after for use in traditional medicine.
Asked about the value of the seized wildlife, Len Talif said it had not been estimated yet as the investigation was still ongoing.
To another question, he said so far no connections had been established between the suspect and international syndicates.
"I presume there are connections. If there is no demand, there will be no illegal trade.
"It's a lucrative business; whether it's the second or fourth most lucrative global crime after drugs, it's still a multi-billion dollar business.
"For Sarawak we have managed to contain it, but still it happens," he said.
Len Talif, who is also Assistant Minister for Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment, said it was important for the state to step up monitoring and enforcement against illegal wildlife trade before it could become bigger.
He said pangolins were among the commonly traded wildlife in Sarawak while there were cases of sun bears being kept as pets, including two rescued in Demak Laut and Serian last month.
"We have to be vigilant to prevent the illegal wildlife trade, especially along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border which can be very porous. We have to prevent any sale of our wildlife to the other side of the border," he said.