WWF Malaysia calls for formation of specialised police wildlife crime unit


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 26 Aug 2020

KOTA KINABALU: The police should set up a wildlife crime unit to tackle related crimes related to the illegal trade more efficiently, says the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia.

WWF-Malaysia’s conservation director Dr Henry Chan said while there were commendable efforts to address the issue, setting up a wildlife crime unit would make it more comprehensive.

“WWF-Malaysia commends the police on its decisive actions to combat the burgeoning problem of illegal wildlife crime that is threatening the survival of iconic wildlife, including the Malayan tiger, Sunda pangolin, and Asian elephant in this country.

“We welcome the police’s strict stance on curbing the use of firearms for illegal hunting and call for continued measures to control firearms, including the purchase of ammunition, ” he said.

Chan said such controls could prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands, in this case, poachers looking to earn a handsome profit at the expense of our wildlife.

He also said as illegal wildlife trade becomes more sophisticated, activities will shift to other platforms, including the Internet, and these need to be addressed as well.

Chan said wildlife crime is often highly organised and sophisticated, which called for a centralised long-term mechanism with dedicated resources in collaboration with various enforcement agencies and stakeholders to tackle the problem effectively.

“Establishing a wildlife crime unit within the police force will greatly help in crippling wildlife crime-related networks as well as help institutionalise joint operations efforts such as Ops Bersepadu Khazanah, ” he added.

He said the provision of an annual national budget was equally important.

Chan believed such crimes often involve the same syndicates that commit cross-border crimes, money laundering, drugs and firearms trafficking, as well as possession of illegal firearms and explosives.

He said a wildlife crime unit would also allow to streamline information, effectively monitor wildlife networks including online trade, data collection, crime analysis as well as to provide adequate training on intelligence sharing for wildlife officers across Malaysia.

“Such an establishment would send a signal to those involved in wildlife crimes as well as the international community that Malaysia is serious in tackling these crimes, ” he added.

To ensure the sustainability of hunting among indigenous people and local communities, Chan said WWF-Malaysia also urges law enforcement agencies to work together with these communities to protect natural resources.

He said the involvement of indigenous people and local communities for patrols is proof that effective collaboration can ensure the protection of our forests.

“While there is a need to safeguard our wildlife and protect it from poachers, it is also important that we safeguard our communities, specifically those who depend on hunting wildlife for sustenance and livelihood, ” he said.

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