by Fatimah Zainal
KOTA KINABALU: From sun bear cubs and tapir calfs to slow loris and hornbills, the illegal wildlife trade is booming online and must be stopped, said wildlife biologist Dr Wong Siew Te.
Dr Wong, who found many such businesses brazenly operating on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, said it was sad that such illegal activities were still widespread in Malaysia.
Despite these sales being illegal under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, hundreds of juvenile protected animals are still being killed, captured and sold as pets and for individual profits, said Dr Wong.
Dr Wong, who is known for his studies on the sun bear and for founding the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC) in Sandakan, was shocked to discover sun bear cubs being sold online.
One Instagram page had more than 500 posts advertising protected infant animals for sale.
“The protected wildlife species that are sold include the calfs of the highly endangered Malayan tapir, sun bear cubs, infant gibbons, infant leaf monkeys, slow loris, leopard cat kittens, juvenile raptors, hornbills, civets, and more.
“All of these protected wildlife infants possibly had their mothers killed by illegal poachers in order to obtain these infants,” he said.
On the BSBCC Facebook page, Dr Wong on Wednesday (May 30) shared a video he found on the Instagram page which was advertising a sun bear cub for sale.
It showed a man bottle feeding milk to the cub.
“The sun bear is a totally protected species in West Malaysia and Sabah, and protected species in Sarawak.
“No one is allowed to sell, to kill, to keep, and to possess any body parts of sun bears,” Dr Wong wrote in his post accompanying the video.
Since the online business is being conducted in the peninsula, Dr Wong had reported the matter to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) which told him that the matter will be investigated.
He said the discovery of sun bear cubs being sold online comes just two weeks after BSBCC celebrated Sun Bear Day on May 16, which was aimed at raising public awareness on the protection and conservation of sun bears.
“If we keep quiet and choose to do nothing, soon our forests will be empty,” he said.