THE World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) would like to congratulate the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) Perak on the recent arrest of an individual transporting a poached tiger in Gopeng following a tip-off from the public.
This is indeed a commendable effort and highlights the importance of public support and swift action taken by Perhilitan to curb the exploitation of our natural treasures by unscrupulous people.
Local and foreign poaching syndicates are emptying our forests of tigers, their prey, and other wildlife. Most of these poachers are armed and they enter the forests without fear of getting caught.
The current case of the local offender blatantly transporting the tiger carcass on his motorbike clearly indicates the lack of fear of being apprehended. The fact that this is the second case of tiger poaching over the past two weeks paints an overall bleak picture for our Malayan tiger’s survival.
Our first line of defence in protecting our tigers would be ensuring that our forests are well managed and patrolled frequently to stop poachers from entering. This unfortunately is not the case in Malaysia. Some of the best protected areas for tigers in India and Thailand, for example, have a minimum of one anti-poaching ranger for every 10 square kilometres. In comparison, Malaysia has less than 10% of these “gold-standard” specified rangers in most of our forests. If the nation does not currently have enough resources to put in place designated anti-poaching patrol rangers, then in the meantime inter-agency cooperation to curb poaching needs to be greatly heightened.
Recognising the lack of anti-poaching enforcement personnel in the forest, WWF-Malaysia calls for joint army patrol initiatives such as the 1Malaysia Biodiversity Enforcement Operation Network (1MBEON) to be carried out with greater intensity, scale and consistency within the landscape to expand ongoing efforts to combat wildlife crime in this country.
As the current case also highlights the importance of informant networks to combat the vast illegal wildlife trade network, WWF-Malaysia calls for more funding allocations towards establishing, maintaining and enhancing such intelligence-driven enforcement efforts.
In the past, poor sentences meted out to tiger poachers and low prosecution rates of wildlife criminals have been highlighted as stumbling blocks in the fight to save the Malayan tiger. WWF-Malaysia reiterates the call for strong prosecution with the highest penalties to be imposed on these offenders, and we believe that this is sorely needed to act as a strong deterrent to poachers. It is high time we acknowledged that wildlife crime is dead serious, as we are running out of time and losing the war against poaching.
DATUK DR DIONYSIUS SHARMA
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