Harsher penalties send loud and clear message to smugglers

PETALING JAYA: Amendments to the Wildlife Conservation Act have now come into force, allowing for stiffer penalties of up to a RM1mil fine and 15 years in jail for anyone caught smuggling protected wildlife.

The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) said 44 provisions under the Act, which were amended and passed in Parliament in 2021, came into effect on Wednesday.

“The enforcement of the Act will see the increase in penalties for offences involving the keeping, hunting and smuggling of wildlife.

“Under Section 71, importing, exporting or re-exporting protected wildlife without a special permit can see those convicted fined up to RM1mil and jailed for not less than 15 years,” it said in a statement.

It said the increase in penalties for wildlife smuggling was necessary because it was a serious crime threatening the country’s priceless natural resources.

“The crime is also categorised as a transnational organised crime. It’s a serious crime and needs to be stopped,” said the department, adding that the hike would act as a deterrent in ensuring wildlife’s conservation for future generations as well as send a clear message to smugglers.The department said along with the amendments, it would continue with joint enforcement operations under the Biodiversity Protection and Patrolling Programme (BP3) in Peninsular Malaysia.

Perhilitan said under this programme, Operasi Bersepadu Khazanah with other enforcement agencies involving the police, Customs, the Forestry Department, the Perak State Parks Corporation and the Johor National Parks Corporation would be carried out.

The programme also involves conservation groups like the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tiger (MyCat), which comprises Traffic Southeast Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Programme, WWF, Malaysian Nature Society, Pelindungan and Rimba.

BP3, said Perhilitan, had also been strengthened by the appointment of veteran army personnel, Orang Asli and civilians as wildlife rangers to help with border control, patrols and enforcement in protected areas and permanent forest reserves.“Perhilitan hopes that the Wildlife Crime Bureau, which was set up last year under the police, can help in the enforcement of the Act.

“The strengthening of the Wildlife Crime Unit under Perhilitan can also help to enhance enforcement,” it said.

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