PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s dense jungle areas would require at least 2,000 people to patrol at all times, but there is only about 150 of them currently due to its high cost, said the Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources Dr. Xavier Jayakumar.
“The only way we can bring an increase in wildlife population is by having more patrols in the forest on a continuous 365 days (a year), ” said Xavier.
“For this, we need a lot of money as we have to pay allowances for people to patrol in the forest, and this is apart from their monthly salaries.
“It will come to about RM20 to 30 million a year, and the budget does not exist.”
Xavier was speaking in a R.AGE interview in July, as part of the team’s investigations into the illicit pangolin trade in Malaysia.
Their investigations were recently published in an online “investigative storybook” titled “The Pangolin and the Dark World of Trafficking”.
WATCH: The R.AGE team goes undercover to buy a pangolin online
Buying endangered species from wildlife trafficking networks is shockingly easy thanks to their use of social media, and delivery can be made within 24 hours by hiding and transporting the animals using local express buses.
Under current laws, the crime is only for possession of wildlife, but amendments to the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 have been drafted and is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the near future.
Xavier said that the amendments are set to be a high deterrent, which may include fines up to RM1 million and/or imprisonment of up to 20 to 25 years.
In the meantime, the ministry has set up a Cyber Crimes unit to monitor the online wildlife trade, and is working with other authorities.
“We have increased the surveillance in ports, and the Cabinet has also approved RM1 billion in spending to purchase special x-rays to be placed in about 52 areas in Malaysia in ports, which scans the whole container and we can know what’s inside, ” said Xavier.
“The American Embassy is also helping us train canines that will detect not only pangolin scales but also other animal parts, or live animals.”
Read R.AGE’s investigative digital storybook “The Pangolin and the Dark World of Trafficking” about the pangolin trafficking trade, here.
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