IT IS truly appalling that a country like Malaysia that is striving to achieve developed status has started to ignore the most pressing issue of wildlife conservation.
The Government really has to take the initiative to nip the problem in the bud. Do not let it develop into a full-blown irreversible epidemic. If that occurs, no amount of crying over spilt milk and cleaning up the mess will be of any help.
There are several measures that can be taken.
·THE Education Ministry should introduce Environmental Management or Environmental Science at all levels of schooling.
Most young Malaysians are enrolled at public schools and the quickest way to open their eyes to the plight of our endangered species is through the school system.
Parents may worry that the introduction of another subject will burden their children, so allow this subject to be an elective it comes to major examinations
But to ensure the message gets across to every student, conduct road shows and exhibitions at public schools with the help of NGOs like WWF Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society;
·REWARD those who inform the authorities on poaching and illegal trade, and increase the penalties on those found guilty.
The penalty for cruelty towards animals should also be increased to deter people from ill-treating domestic and wild animals.
Send officers to spot-check traditional medicine shops, especially Chinese medicine shops and traders in night markets, to ensure they do not sell products consisting of parts of endangered species;
·REVIEW the budget allocation for the management of our local zoos and national parks;
·CONSIDER increasing the protected areas in less densely populated areas of the country, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.
Minimise logging concessions and give incentives to the same companies to curb poaching and illegal logging in those areas.
Granting long-term logging permits will also encourage timber companies to manage their areas properly to ensure a controlled rate of forest clearing; and
·THE authorities can consider enlisting the help of indigenous people like the orang asli in the peninsula who know the forest well.
Any poaching activity and illegal removal of forest products can be spotted quickly by them.
Leong Mun Yi,
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