The Star Online, 13th December 2013
BY VICTORIA BROWN
Illegal wildlife trade in Malaysia may be rampant, but we should work to plug gaps in enforcement rather than concede defeat.HUSKS being sawed off, tigers being skinned, bears kept in captivity to harvest bile, and endangered animals being eating by humans.
Wildlife poaching and trade is becoming a huge problem in Malaysia.
I spoke to the Southeast Asia regional director of wildlife protection NGO Traffic Dr Chris Shepherd and he told me that Malaysia plays an important role in the global wildlife trade.
Malaysia is not only a source of exotic wildlife to be sold off in the black market, but we are also a consumer of illegal wildlife items, and transit point for several poachers around the world.
“Tigers are being poached all over Malaysia. Malaysia is also a source for pangolins, freshwater turtles and many more, for both the domestic market and export. Sambar deers are also being poached in a serious way which is mostly used for local consumption at the local restaurants,” said Shepherd.
The illegal slaughter of these animals have already caused banteng (wild cattle) and rhinos to be extinct in Peninsular Malaysia.
“Tigers are dwindling, and that’s sad because Malaysia really has a chance to keep its tigers. We will lose them if we don’t change,” said Shepherd.
Shepherd says that there is no excuse for the senseless drop in our wildlife population.
“The only reason it happened was because there wasn’t enough effort to protect them. The habitat is still there,” he said.
“There’s enough habitat to have over a thousand tigers for example, they’re just getting emptied out,” said Shepherd.
It is estimated that less than 500 tigers can be found in the wild in Malaysia.
“Everything is in decline. It’s very depressing that we’re losing so much wildlife so fast. Even though people know about this, the most depressing thing is that so little is being done,” said Shepherd.
The worse thing is that these illegal items harvested by poachers are relatively easy to find in Malaysia.
“Malaysia is one of the top five countries in the world for availability of illegal bear bile medicine.
“And it’s in the “group of eight” countries known for illegal ivory smuggling. It’s also a major consumer and transit point for illegal tortoises from India and Madagascar,” said Shepherd.
This business is not only responsible for the dwindling amounts of wildlife in Malaysia, but these poachers are earning millions out of the illegal trade.
“Anson Wong is just one of them. There are other dealers that is of the same scale as Anson Wong operating in Malaysia, and the authorities really need to do something about this because these guys are operating in huge volumes and big money,” said Shepherd.
He says that the authorities are aware of the issue, but corruption and complacency is a problem.
“There’s no way that dealers can operate on such a large scale without the authorities becoming aware of it. But being aware about it and doing something about it are different things,” said Shepherd.
He says that illegal wildlife trade has to become a priority for the government.
“The authorities have to be going after the big dealers in Malaysia and putting them out of business. They are completely plundering Malaysia’s forests and they think that they are untouchable. This has to change,” said Shepherd.
He says that authorities should be catching the big players and putting them in jail and slapping them with a huge fine (and not just a slap on the wrist).
“The wildlife trade is worth billions, if someone is earning millions of dollars of wildlife what good is it going to do fining them a thousand dollars?”
“Malaysia has really good laws actually, some of the best laws. But they are not always being enforced as well as they should be. We have the tools to tackle wildlife trade but if you don’t use them they are useless,” said Shepherd.
Everyone has to see that wildlife poaching is get worse year by year, with species being wiped out because of the trade.
“We have already seen the results of this kind of activities in other countries. Cambodia has no more tigers. Thailand has no more rhinos.
Vietnam lost its last rhino two years ago when it was shot,” said Shepherd.
Poaching and illegal traders are a even bigger threat to many species than habitat loss. So let’s learn from the mistakes of other countries and take action!
It is our concern that that poachers are killing protected animals in our jungles. It is concern that poachers are driving our wildlife to extinction for their own gain!
We can’t be sitting down thinking that somebody else is doing something or that it isn’t our problem. Stand up and take action!
“The public has to keep speaking up, the public has to stop eating at restaurants selling illegal wild meat.”
“The public has to stop going to shops that sell illegal medicines. If a shop sells bear bile, don’t go there. Don’t buy anything there.
Don’t even buy your bread there. Report it. It shouldn’t be just the NGOs making noise,” said Shepherd.
Everyone is going to lose at the end of the day if nothing is done.
Shepherd says that it’s not too late for Malaysia to turnaround and save our wildlife.
“Malaysia is unique in that there still is a good chance to keep its wildlife. There is still a lot of wildlife here and there are still many species still in good population numbers. Whereas other countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, it is already too late for many species,” says Shepherd.
So let’s take a stand for our animals. Report shops selling illegal products from the trade. Urge for better wildlife enforcement and penalties. Speak up before it’s too late!
> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.
Free Malaysia Today (FMT), 14th December 2013
By Alfian ZM Tahir
FMT, through its sister site FMT Borneo Plus, is joining forces with a conservation group to save the Borneo Sun Bears in Sepilok.
SANDAKAN: FreeMalaysiaToday (FMT) today joined forces with a Sabah-based conservation group – Borneo Sun Bears Conservation Centre (BSBCC) – to launch a four-month campaign to save Sun Bears in Sepilok.
The campaign, aimed at raising funds for the Sun Bear conservation programme in Kabili-Sepilok Forest Reserve near Sandakan will run until April10, next year.
“We are proud to be part of this campaign to protect the Sun Bears,” FMT editor-in-chief Kabilan said.
KOTA KINABALU: The war drum against illegal wildlife poaching and trading has been sounded by the government.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has issued an all-out action to address the issue in Sabah using the fullest extent of the law to punish the culprits.
“The war on illegal wildlife trade and poaching has just begin, so hunters and poachers in Sabah be warned that there will be no compromise as we will be prosecuting and we will charge them to the highest extent of the law. Be ready to go to jail,” warned Masidi.
The Minister was responding to the successful sting operation carried out by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) yesterday morning at the Tamu grounds of Nabawan Town, which netted three individuals.
“A total of 145 kilograms of Sambar deer meat and 15 kilograms of Barking deer meat were confiscated by our wildlife rangers as they were being sold without valid permits,” said Benedict Jani, Officer in Charge of SWD Office in Keningau.
However, three other traders managed to flee after the first two were apprehended along with a third individual who resisted arrest and prevented SWD Officers from confiscating the meat, added Jani.
“Nabawan district has become a hotspot for the sale of illegal bushmeat in recent years due to the vast road networks all the way to Tawau and we will not be surprised if this meat was illegally hunted in Maliau Basin or as far as some protected Forest Reserves in Tawau and Lahad Datu,” shared Jani.
The SWD has been clamping down on such activities and currently it has 10 similar cases pending prosecution.
The samples of the confiscated meat will also be sent to the new Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic Laboratory for genetic analysis to confirm the species of wildlife, according to Dr Sen Nathan, Assistant Director of SWD and also a wildlife veterinarian.
“We would also be conducting analysis to see if there are any viruses or bacteria found in the confiscated meat that could be hazardous to human health which is also a concern for the department,” said Sen.
In addition SWD director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu has stated that the SWD would be increasing regular surveillance on all districts in Sabah for illegal poaching and trading by beefing up its wildlife enforcement capabilities and efficiency by setting up a separate unit.
“We want to follow the template of our very successful Wildlife Rescue Unit and we need about RM2 million to get the Wildlife Enforcement Unit underway with at least five fully modified four wheeled drive vehicles, 500 camera traps, unmanned drones for the team of 20 wildlife enforcement rangers,” said Laurentius.
“The operation in Nabawan is just the beginning, we will arrest you for poaching and selling wildlife illegally” said Laurentius unequivocally.
New Straits Times, 11th December 2013
By AVILA GERALDINE
PROTECTED SPECIES: State unit probes into claims following reports made by peopleNABAWAN: A TEAM of Wildlife Rescue Unit is investigating claims that protected species are being sold in a market in this remote district.
Today, a Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) enforcement team will make its inspection following evidence given by individuals.
The species involved include the binturong (bearcat), common palm civet, banded palm civet, Malay civet, sambar deer, porcupine and blood python.
Its director, Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, said these wild animals were slaughtered at the open market which operates every Wednesdays.
"Those species are definitely hunted from forest reserves and national parks, where hunting is totally forbidden.
"This is unacceptable and we need the support from the public to tackle this," he said in a press statement.
There was a clear and present danger to Sabah wildlife, he said, adding illegal hunting and poaching were happening at an unprecedented rate now.
This was not only fuelled by local consumption but also international illegal trade in wildlife, he said.
Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said those who hunted, handled and consumed bushmeat put their lives at risk due to diseases.
"Take the example of ebola, a zoonotic and deadly disease transmitted by bushmeat handling and consumption in central Africa, especially of chimpanzees and gorillas.
"Ebola has killed thousands of people. More close to us, the nipah virus carried by flying foxes (fruit bats) and transmitted to pigs, then to people who handled and consumed bats and pork, killed thousands of people in Peninsular Malaysia."
On Monday, SWD announced the setting up of the Wildlife Health Genetic and Forensic Laboratory together with EcoHealth Alliance (EHA).
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun had said the facility would help counteract the threat of diseases from wildlife to humans.
"However, it cannot stop people going to the forests and slaughtering our wildlife.
"I want this to stop immediately and I will put all efforts and means into place to tackle this issue.
"Sabah will not be a place where our beautiful wildlife and national treasures will be decimated by heartless people."
Tuaran: Illegal hunting is alleged to have taken place in several forest reserves and national parks in Sabah, including the Maliau Basin Conservation Area which is also known as The Lost World.
Also in Crocker Range National Park, Tawau Hills National Park, Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Malua Biobank and Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.
This was exposed during the Fifth East and Southeast Asian Wild Animal Rescue Network (WARN) Conference held at Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort here on Nov 26-27.
The conference, which was the first to be held in Sabah, was co-organised by Sabah Wildlife Department and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and sponsored by Malaysian Palm Oil Council, EcoOils, Sabah Tourism Board and Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort.
"We also have evidence of illegal hunting in several forest reserves and national parks in Sabah, including iconic protected areas such as Crocker Range National Park, Tawau Hills National Park, Maliau Basin Conservation Area and Tabin Wildlife Reserve, but also Malua BioBank and Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary," said Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of DGFC, who was the co-organiser of the conference, during a discussion on wildlife trade and poaching in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Sabah. The discussion was also co-chaired by Dr Marc Ancrenaz from HUTAN.
"This (illegal hunting) is extremely serious and we-government, NGOs, research institutions-need to tackle this issue as quickly as possible if we don't want to see our wildlife ending in bowls and/or in medicine products," said Goossens.
"It is paramount that the millions recently invested in our protected forests are used for wildlife protection and wildlife trade and poaching enforcement. Shall we wait for another iconic species (such as the Sumatran rhino) to disappear in Sabah before reacting?" he asked.
Goossens said they also took the opportunity during the discussion to present some recent data from surveys carried out by TRAFFIC in Sabah (and other Malaysian states) on pangolin trade and sun bear bile trade.
"The results were astonishing, out of 21 shops visited in December 2010 in Kota Kinabalu, eight were selling bear bile products. Moreover, in a survey carried out in our State in 2012, 10 out of 24 shops surveyed were selling sun bear products. More astonishingly, a TRAFFIC report published in 2010 on pangolin trade in Sabah, including analysis of trade syndicate's logbooks seized by the Wildlife Department in 2009, showed that 22,200 pangolins were traded by the syndicate in 13 months," said Goossens.
Wildlife Director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu, meanwhile, said the department is actually looking at setting up a Wildlife Enforcement Unit, working in a similar way as the Wildlife Rescue Unit, but focusing on wildlife trade, illegal hunting and bushmeat trade, using the best existing tools against wildlife smuggling and poaching and having a permanent presence in all protected areas in Sabah. "We are currently looking for institutions interested to support this unit," he said.
WARN is a network of wild animal rescue centres, wildlife law enforcement groups and officials and animal protection groups in East and Southeast Asia.
WARN Interim Board Chair Professor Kurtis Pei, who is a professor at the National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Taiwan, who was present at the conference said he was very proud to say that WARN was established as a registered international NGO since August 2013 and that "we have members in the following countries: Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, and many representatives from wildlife rescue centres in those countries attended WARN 2013 in Sabah."
"The purpose of WARN is to enhance the capabilities of East and Southeast Asian wildlife rescue centres to rescue and conserve wildlife, provide conservation awareness education for the public and advocate minimum standards for wildlife rescue centres," he said.
Wildlife Assistant Director and Wildlife Rescue Unit head Dr Sen Nathan said WARN 2013 was a great opportunity to showcase Sabah's very own Wildlife Rescue Unit that was set up three years ago, a team of local boys and girls working tirelessly to save and protect wildlife in Sabah.
"Sabah sees the potential of WARN as an organisation that would be able to bridge all Asian countries together in terms of wildlife conservation matters and also assist government authorities in respective countries monitoring illegal wildlife trade," he said.
The conference was officiated by Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun who in his speech gave his assurance by saying: "We might seem to have lost many battles, but I can assure you, the buck stops here and the war for wildlife conservation is being fought hard by a very dedicated group of people here in Sabah in whom I give all my trust to be successful in tackling the problems caused by wildlife trade and illegal hunting in our protected areas É this has to stop and we will use every means to end it."
The Star Online, 11th December 2013
BY MUGUNTAN VANAR
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah launched a crackdown on illegal trade and poaching of wildlife as some 160kg of protected Sambar and barking dears were seized from a tamu (weekly farmers' market) in Nabawan.
Three people were arrested and three others escaped as Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) rangers swooped on the tamu on Wednesday following public tip-offs on open sale of slaughtered protected species in Nabawan about 200km from Kota Kinabalu.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun ordered the department to go all out to address the issue of wildlife poaching and trading in the state.
"The war on illegal wildlife trade and poaching has just began, so hunters and poachers in Sabah be warned that there will be no compromise as we will be prosecuting and we will charge them to the highest extent of the law. Be ready to be jailed,” Masidi said.
SWD officer Benedict Jani said that a total of 145 kilograms of Sambar deer meat and 15 kilograms of Barking deer meat was confiscated as they were being sold without valid permits.
He said three other traders managed to escape after the first two were apprehended along with a third individual who resisted arrest and was preventing wildlife rangers from confiscating the bushmeat.
"Nabawan district has become a hotspot for the sale of illegal bushmeat in recent years due to the vast road networks all the way to Tawau and we will not be surprised if this bushmeat was illegally hunted in Maliau Basin or as far as some protected Forest Reserves in Tawau and Lahad Datu,” Jani said.
PETALING JAYA (Dec 11): The Sabah state government has declared war on illegal wildlife trade and poaching, warning hunters in the state that there would be no compromise.
In making the call, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the state would prosecute and charge them to the "highest extent of the law".
"Be ready to go to jail," he warned.
Masidi was responding to the successful sting operation carried out by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) on Wednesday morning at the Tamu grounds of Nabawan Town, which netted three individuals.
A total of 145 kilograms of Sambar deer meat and 15 kilograms of Barking deer meat was confiscated as they were being sold without valid permits.
Keningau SWD officer Benedict Jani said that the Nabawan district has become a hotspot for the sale of illegal bushmeat in recent years due to the vast road networks all the way to Tawau.
"We will not be surprised if this bushmeat was illegally hunted in Maliau Basin or as far as some protected Forest Reserves in Tawau and Lahad Datu,” he said.
The department, Jani added, has been clamping down on such activities and currently have 10 similar cases pending prosecution.
SWD director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the department will be increasing regular surveillance on all districts in Sabah for illegal poaching as well as trading by strengthening its wildlife enforcement capabilities and efficiency by setting up a separate unit.
The operation in Nabawan, Laurentius assured, was just the beginning.
"We want to follow the template of our very successful Wildlife Rescue Unit and we need about RM 2 million to get the Wildlife Enforcement Unit underway with at least five fully modified four wheeled drive vehicles, 500 camera traps, unmanned drones for the team of 20 wildlife enforcement rangers," he said.